The Successful Lives Of Past National Spelling Bee Champions

Rebecca Sealfon

You obviously have to be pretty bright and extremely dedicated to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

But does that lead to future success?

For the most part, yes. Among the winners, there are lots of graduates of top schools, and plenty of successes.  

Unsurprisingly, many of them go into brainy professions, becoming doctors and lawyers. But there are some pretty unusual choices too, from a Web entrepreneur, to a voice-over actor, and a professional poker player. 

One became a prominent journalist and was part of a newspaper team that won a Pulitzer prize. 

1992 winner Amanda Goad went to Harvard Law School and now works as a staff lawyer on the ACLU's LGBT and AIDS rights project.

1981 winner Paige Pipkin Kimble, right, was runner up in 1980 to Jacques Bailly, left. She couldn't shake the spelling bee; she currently serves as its executive director.

Bailly, the 1980 winner, is an associate professor of Classics at the University of Vermont and the bee's official pronouncer.

Pratyush Buddiga, the 2002 winner, is a fixture on the professional poker circuit.

Here's a picture of him getting interviewed at a European Poker tour event, 10 years later.

Rebecca Sealfon, the 1997 winner, remembered for screaming each letter of her last word, is the founder and CEO of Research Match, a startup that helps professors and students collaborate.

1973 winner Barrie Trinkle went to MIT, spent more than a decade at NASA's Jet Propulsion lab, worked as an editor at Amazon, and now is a freelance editor.

Source: North Shore LIJ and Scripps

1969 winner Susan Yoachum was a journalist and part of a San Jose Mercury News team that won a Pulitzer in 1989. She later became political editor of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Source: SFGate

1988 champion Raga Ramachandran started Stanford at 16 and is now a professor of pathology and UCSF's medical school.

Source: Time

1991 winner Amy Marie Dimak was a molecular biotechnology researcher and now works at raising her 3 children.

Source: Time

1989 winner Scott Isaacs practices naturopathic and chiropractic medicine in Denver.

Source: Time

George Thampy, the 2000 winner, graduated Harvard in 2010, works in private equity, and plans to get an MBA at Stanford.

Source: LinkedIn

Jody-Anne Maxwell, the first non-american winner, who won in 1998, became a celebrity in Jamaica after her victory. She was, as of 2012, a law student.

Wendy Guey, the 1996 winner, is a public school teacher in Boston.

1998 winner Nupur Lala was a star of the 2002 movie Spellbound, spent time as a brain researcher at MIT, and plans to enter medical school.

The amazing moment of victory.

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