WASHINGTON, May 28 (UPI) -- Kavya Shivashankar, a 13-year-old girl from Kansas, won "The 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee" in Washington Thursday.
The eighth grader won the competition after correctly spelling the word Laodicean, which she was told means "lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics."
Tim Ruiter, 12, of Virginia, came in second. The word he was ousted for misspelling was Maecenas.
Aishwarya Pastapur, 13, of Illinois, came in third place. She was eliminated after spelling the word menhir wrong.
"Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron presided over the Bee, while current "DWTS" champion Shawn Johnson made an appearance on the show. Johnson is also to be the keynote speaker at an awards banquet for the spellers to be held Friday night.
The competition featured 293 champion spellers, ranging in age from 9 to 15. Spellers participating in the national competition qualified by winning locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities.
The Bee featured top spellers from across the United States, as well as competitors from Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana and South Korea. Students from U.S. Defense and State Department schools in Europe and from American and international schools in China also participated.