A proud family, a proud city

The Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, Arvind Mahankali (Speller 163), did New York proud by winning, said his father, Srinivas Mahankali.

"I think we did something for New York City," he said. "We love New York."

Arvind spoke to a swarm of reporters while standing on a stage full of confetti, people gathered around him with cameras and microphones.

In the past, Arvind has been eliminated on words of German origin. He twice finished third in the Bee. This time, his mother said, she didn't think that would be a problem.

"Today, I knew that he knew those words," Bhavani Mahankali said.

Still, she said, watching him was "so stressful."

"When there were, like, two kids left, I still was not sure" he would win, she said.

Srinivas called Arvind's success a redemption.

"Today, this evening, he started saying, 'If I win,'" Srinivas said.

"He always wanted to make New York proud," Bhavani added.

Griselda Garcia, Arvind's sponsor at the New York Daily News, said she was thrilled that Arvind was the champion. After all, she watched him grow up.

New York spellers have won twice before, in 1976 and 1997.

"It's huge for us," she said. "We're bringing the trophy home."

Srinath Mahankali, Arvind's younger brother, said he was proud, too.

The confetti on the stage made it difficult for him to run up to Arvind, the fourth grader said.

"I'm really happy that Arvind won," he said. "He's my brother, and I just like to cheer him on."

Srinath also plans to follow in his brother's footsteps. Two past champions watched their siblings compete in this year's Bee.

Srinath only knew one of the words Arvind spelled properly to win, but that won't stop him from studying like his brother.

"I want to go in this competition, and I really want to win it all, just like Arvind did," he said.

Champion Arvind Mahankali and family