Of all these young geniuses, 14-year-old Anurag Kashyap from Poway, California, probably had the biggest single-day live audience watching him. In June 2005—with 11 million people watching on ESPN—Anurag won the 78th Scripps National Spelling Bee, beating 272 other competitors.
Anurag's winning word was "appoggiatura." According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, this mouthful of a word means, "an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size."
How did this eighth-grader acquire this special skill, and who encouraged him to study for three to four hours a day? "My mom introduced me to my first spelling bee [in fourth grade]. My teachers often said I should just try it," Anurag says. "Ever since then I was interested in the spelling bee."
Want to know more about the intense thrill of the National Spelling Bee? Meet the cast of Akeelah and the Bee, a movie about a young girl from a tough L.A. neighborhood who enters the National Spelling Bee.