Former spelling bee champion wins 2019 National Geographic Bee

8th grader wins 2019 National Geographic Bee

Eighth grader Nihar Janga beat out 53 other state and territory champions to win the title of National Geographic Bee Champion Wednesday, making him an incredible double champion. Back in 2016, Janga was the co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Until the last question, Janga felt like the underdog as the final round of the championships went into overtime. The two finalists tied for five rounds in a row until they reached the final question of which plateau Norway's northernmost county is located on.

After making the top 10 at last year's bee, Janga's father wanted him to retire and focus on school. Now he can tell his dad, "I told you so" -- something his dad said he's already heard from his wife since their son's win.  

Now Janga is setting his sights even higher, hoping to compete in the International Brain Bee as a high schooler – a fitting challenge for Janga who said he wants to be a neurosurgeon when he grows up.
In the team category of the competition, four 10-year-olds from New York took home first place. They wowed the judges with a river filtration system to remove plastic before it reaches the ocean. They're using the prize money to implement their solution.
"It's really important because we share one big earth," said one of the 10-year-olds on the team. Added another: "When we grow up, we will also be able to come up with solutions for these problems."

The winning team took home $25,000 to put towards their project and Janga won a $25,000 college scholarship. Because of this year's success with the challenge focused on plastic pollution, National Geographic says it will continue that theme next year.