Aspiring competitive spellers, take note: this AP story on 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati, the year's Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, is simply awesome. Here are some tips on how to take home one of the nerdiest trophies ever (and we mean "nerdiest" in a totally envious, very good way, obviously):
Start young. Snigdha's dad said he'd ask his daughter to spell out the words she saw out the car window while they drove to kindergarten every day. He knew Snigdha had a special gift for letters when she said her favorite word was "design," thanks to the silent "g." (For comparison's sake, I'm pretty sure my favorite word at the time was "dog." Which has a "g" in it, too!)
Develop esoteric interests. The word that won Snigdha the big prize and $40,000 in cash and prizes was "guetapens," a French word that means an ambush or a trap. "I knew it. I'd seen it before," said Snigdha, who was a semifinalist last year. Naturally, Snigdha is a coin collector and a Sherlock Holmes fan when she isn't reading the dictionary. Maybe that's why she triumphed over kids who couldn't spell words like "schwannoma," "schwarmerei," and "ericeticolous."
It helps to have an Indian family. Ever since "Spellbound" documentary star Nupur Lala won the bee in 1999, Americans of Indian descent have scored the prize 10 out of the last 14 years, and five times in a row. Many, including Snigdha, say Lala is an inspiration.
Have adorable, supportive siblings. Apparently, the moment Snigdha won was a little awkward, since the announcer didn't proclaim her the champion right away. But her 10-year-old brother, who knew she had won, broke the ice by running onto the stage to give his big sister a hug. Awww. Also: "Snigdha's grandparents traveled from Hyderabad in southeastern India for the competition, but it was the little brother who stole the show as he played with the confetti and then helped his sister hoist the huge trophy." God, that's adorable.
What's next for Snigdha? Well, she wants to be a doctor -– either a psychiatrist or a neurosurgeon — a career she says might actually be easier than being a spelling bee champion. Okay, now she's starting to piss me off. (Kidding, Snigdha — I'm your biggest fan! I'm just a little jealous.)