“Sometimes I just pinch myself when I wake up to make sure it isn’t a dream,” Chaitra Tummala said.
Her mom says she’s been achieving since she was a toddler
“When Chaitra was 5 years old, I saw that there was a spelling bee happening for kindergarteners… she participated and came first as well,” Divya Potturu said.
It has been a long road from grade school bees to the long-awaited finale. She studies for hours a day, and she never goes anywhere without her gigantic dictionary.
She never let hard work stop her from having fun. Her trick to success is pretending to write the words on her hands.
“I like the thrill, I like the excitement of knowing the word or not knowing the word,” Tummala said.
Tummala lost in the final round to 14-year-old Zaila Avant-Garde. She misspelled Neroli-oil, but still took home a $25,000 prize. She says next year she hopes to win it all.
“I never thought I’d make it this far, and it’s been one of my dreams to do this well,” Tummala said.