One by one, other students stumbled over words like "brouhaha" and "edelweiss" and Shayaan,12, admitted he guessed the spelling of his winning word -- "bituminous" --a word he had never studied but win he did, outlasting 70 others.
A sixth-grader from Sunny Isles Beach, Shayaan Subzwari will represent Miami-Dade County in the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held in Washington, D.C. in the last week of May.
"I was really nervous," he said, wearing the paper crown of sponsor Burger King. He had to prove he could spell "schadenfreude," in the 73rd Miami Herald Spelling Bee.
When Shayaan won, his father, Syed, lifted him off the ground and gave him a spinning bear hug. His mother and study partner, Insook Subzwari, jumped and cheered. "Oh my God," she said, still catching her breath. "Nervous. So nervous."
It wasn't just luck that won the Herald bee. He trained five to six days a week over three months. He said he used a program on Quizlet.com after school and on weekend mornings, spelling words and then respelling them for his mother.