Harini Logan is this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee winner. The 14-year-old eighth-grader from San Antonio, Texas, was part of the bee’s first-ever rapid-fire spell off with 12-year-old Vikram Raju from Denver.
The tense moment found both contestants spelling words in quick succession, with Logan getting 21 words correct and Raju, a seventh-grader, correctly spelling 15 words within 90 seconds.
Logan was initially eliminated, then reinstated during an earlier round after judges felt she had given an inaccurate definition for the word pullulation. Logan stated the definition meant the nesting or mating of birds, while Scripps said the definition was the swarming of bees.
Bee officials then checked Merriam-Webster, the dictionary that Scripps relies on, which states that pullulate means both “to breed or produce freely” and “swarm, teem,” giving Logan another chance at a $50,000 cash prize.
On Thursday evening, Logan made her fourth and final eligible appearance at the Scripps Spelling Bee. As she held the winning trophy, she called the moment “so surreal.”
Raju, whose family joined him on stage, was still shaking when asked by spelling bee host LeVar Burton if he would return for his last eligible opportunity to compete in the 2023 edition of the spelling bee, Raju answered, “Yes.”
Logan outperformed more than 200 other competitors, including 12 other finalists. In the final rounds, words like “scyllarian,” “pyrrolidone,” “Otukian,” and “Senijextee” showed how, after almost a century of national spelling bees, the words have become more difficult.
“The fact that Harini and Vikram are misspelling these words is a testament to how tough these words are,” said Zaila Avant-Garde, last year’s winner. Harini and Vikram “are the absolute best of the best,” she said. Avant-Garde made history during the 2022 spelling bee as the first African-American and the first contestant from Louisiana to win the spelling bee.
Logan is an avid reader and plans to write her first book in high school. During her first time competing in 2018, she tied at 323; in 2019, then tied at 30, and in 2021 she tied at 31. The 2020 Scripps Spelling Bee was canceled 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Logan won a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal, and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. From Merriam-Webster, she received a $2,500 cash prize and a reference library. From the Encyclopedia Britannica, she will receive $400 for reference works, including a 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica © Replica Set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online © Premium.