In 1998, Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica became the first person of African descent and the first spelling champion from outside the United States to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Pranav Sivakumar (Speller 64) misspelled "cyanophycean" in Round 15.
Arvind Mahankali (Speller 163) spelled "tokonoma" and "knaidel" correctly, smiling and nodding as he did. He is the winner of the Bee, and the first male champion since 2008.
Knaidel is a German-derived Yiddish word. Arvind, who finished third in each of the past two Bees, has gotten out on German words.
"The German curse has turned into a German blessing," he said.
Arvind said the words were extremely hard, and there were several he didn't know -- particularly "melocoton," the word that eliminated fellow four-time competitor Grace Remmer (Speller 39).
The New York eighth grader studied six hours on Sundays, but 30 minutes other days of the week. He said he plans to stop studying spelling and begin studying physics.
"It means that I am retiring on a good note," he said.
Arvind hoisted the trophy over his head, with his parents and brother joining him on the stage.
Before the finals, Arvind -- who was the only competitor to return from last year's finals -- said he was feeling "pretty happy with my performance."
"Right now, it's just fun," he said.