OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee seized an opportunity that didn’t exist before this year.

Fourteen-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, got into the bee through a new wild-card program. It was created to give a chance to spellers whose path to nationals gets stymied because they live in abnormally tough regions.

Those geographical inequities were on full display when the top three finishers all came from the Dallas region. Karthik ended up beating 12-year-old Naysa Modi, who lives about 15 miles away and topped him at their county spelling bee.

Naysa was making her fourth appearance at nationals and had a loud cheering section. Karthik was largely unknown. But on Thursday night, he was better.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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