NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.- Snigdha Nandipati a 14-year-old of San Diego won the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night when she correctly spelled the word "guetapens," which means a trap or ambush.
Although Nandipati took home a $35,000 cash prize Thursday, Nandipati may fall victim to the guatepens that comes with winning the Spelling Bee, a lifetime of ridicule and shaming from peers.
"Well it is quite clear I can't be schwarmerei. I understand that I have a long road ahead of me," said Nandipati.
Schwarmerei, which means excessive enthusiasm, knocked first runner-up Stuti Mishra, 14, of West Melbourne, Fla. out of the Spelling Bee after failing to correctly spell the word.
Past Spelling Bee winners explain winning the Spelling Bee is much like winning the lottery curse.
"At first you feel elated. You're handed a big trophy and you're on TV, everything feels great," said George Thampy, a 24-year-old virgin and a previous Spelling Bee champion. "Then you return to school and the next thing you know you're getting slammed up against lockers. Everybody thinks you're a dork and you find yourself spelling words in your head to distract your mind from the fact that your hair is emerged in a whirl pool of toilet water."
Thampy won the Spelling Bee in 2000 by correctly spelling "demarche," which means a move, protest or maneuver, usually by a diplomat. Today, Thampy works for a private equity firm in Chicago, but spends his free time devoted to a nonprofit that shoots "It gets better" videos for Spelling Bee champions, who get picked on throughout their youth."
Meanwhile Nandipati is preparing for her very own onslaught of high school torture. After spending 10-12 hours on weekends and six hours on weekdays studying for the Spelling Bee, Nandipati is aware she may lack the social skills necessary to succeed.
"I have spent part of the prize money on Glee box sets and Justin Bieber albums," said Nandipati. "I hope after a summer of studying how to be a high school kid I will blend in."
Nandipati plans on spending the rest of the prize money on Sinbad, who will be her personal bodyguard.
"He did a pretty good job protecting the President's kid in the First Kid," said Nandipati. "He needed a job, so I said why not."