A 14-year-old Indian American student has won the prestigious $50,000 National Geographic Bee contest here, becoming the sixth consecutive Indian American to win the championship. Pranay Varada, who is Dewitt Perry Middle School's eighth grader from Texas, won a medal and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expediton to the Galapagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour II.
Varada beat runner-up Thomas Wright, 14, in the event hosted by journalist and humourist Mo Rocca at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
Varada was also presented a lifetime membership to the National Geographic Society. He also competed in the last year's finals. He was declared the winner after he won the first tie-breaker question correctly identifying the Kunlun Mountains as the 1,200-mile range that separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau.
Before the finals, Varada told National Geographic that winning the bee was a five-year effort of his. "It would be the greatest experience of my life," he said. Another Indian American Veda Bhattaram from New Jersey finished third at the finals, the American Bazaar Online reported.
Six of the 10 finalists were Indian-Americans. Second and third prize winners received scholarships of $25,000 and $10,000, respectively.