The third time proved to be the charm for Sukanya Roy, the 14-year-old eighth-grader from South Abington Township, Pa., who won the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday. Her winning word? Cymotrichous, which means wavy hair. "It felt amazing! I couldn't believe I won," Roy tells TVGuide.com. "I was so excited. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Literally — champions cannot compete again and eighth grade is the last year of eligibility. "But even if I could compete again, I'm not sure I would because this has been so great for me this time," she says. "It was just a wonderful experience."
See what else Roy has to say about her big win and her one condition for going on Jeopardy!
Congratulations! Did you know you had spelled the word correctly when you finished?
Roy: Thank you! I did. I knew the word and I had studied it before, but I just wanted to make sure so [I asked for it to be used in a sentence]. I knew I had to stay calm and try to spell it slowly to make sure I didn't mess up. But when I was done, I knew it was correct and I won, but I still couldn't believe it. I was so excited. I can't describe it.
Were you nervous when it was down to you and Laura?
Roy: No. In a Spelling Bee, how another person does doesn't affect how you do. It's just the spellers against the dictionary. And all the spellers are friends.
Roy: Honestly, we didn't even notice! [Laughs] They told us it went, like, three hours, and we were all like, 'It felt like 90 minutes!' It felt like it went by really quickly for us. I was just focused on spelling one word at a time.What did you learn from your past two Bees?
Roy: I was just trying not to panic if I got a word I didn't know, which didn't happen this year. I wanted to improve on last year's ranking, which I did!How did you prepare?
Roy: A lot of studying, reading the dictionary. But it wasn't just rote memorization. I also studied the roots of words. That helps you piece words together that come from words you already know. My parents were really helpful. My dad sort of acted as my coach. Both he and my mom quizzed me on words. They were really supportive too. My school was really supportive.What are you going to do with the $40,000?
Roy: I honestly have no idea. I think some of it is going to my college fund. And I guess I'll keep the rest for myself!What's next for you?
Roy: Well, school ends in a couple of weeks, so after that it's just summer break. I'm really going to enjoy the time off from studying. I don't have to study anymore! I'm going to have a lot of fun with my free time.Did you take any breaks while you were preparing for the Bee or was it wall-to-wall studying?
Roy: I took breaks and I did hang out with friends, but not nearly as often as I used to because it was the last few months before the Bee that I started studying super-intensely.
Roy: I play the piano and the violin, so those are always fun. I like to read. I don't play sports much, but I like ice skating and rock-climbing and hiking.I'd be remiss if I didn't ask if you watch TV.
Roy: [Laughs] Not much over the past few months, but I do. ... I watch Jeopardy! That's the only one that comes to mind right away. I just watch whatever's on. I don't really have a favorite show.Since you can't compete on the Bee anymore, you should do Jeopardy! next.
Roy: Yeah! I think I would like to do that. [Laughs] I think that would be fun too. But not against the computer!