Nihar Janga, co-champion, stole the National Spelling Bee and our hearts

Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, reacts after correctly spelling 'quillon' on Thursday, in the finals.

The final rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee were nailbiters, but 11-year-old Nihar Janga brought some comic relief.

The finalist from Houston, Texas, who was declared co-champion with 13-year-old Jairam Hathwar of Painted Post, N.Y., Had the crowd cheering well before the confetti fell Thursday night.

“Appetitost, is this a cheese?” Nihar asked, not the first time he threw a definition at the judges.

“It is. It’s a soft Danish cheese,” pronouncer Dr. Jacques A. Bailly said, as spectators laughed and cheered.

Who’s behind the Scripps spelling bee Twitter account? Former champs.

“Taoiseach, is this an Irish prime minister?” He later asked.

“It is,” Bailly told him. Nihar went on to spell it correctly, surviving another championship round.

Nihar, Speller 232, was the only speller to get a perfect score on the preliminary test. That means he not only spelled every word correctly during Rounds 2 and 3, but he also aced the written test that preceded those rounds.

Nihar and Jairam exhausted 25 championship rounds worth of words. They spelled correctly all but two rounds (the misspellings were back-to-back, so no one was disqualified). Nihar’s winning word was “gesellschaft.” For Jairam, speller 152, it was “Feldenkrais.”.

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When they were declared the co-champions, Nihar was asked how he managed to get as far as he did, being a first-timer at the National Spelling Bee.

His answer? “My mom.”.

Good kid.

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