People.com Human Interest Texas Student, 14, Wins 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee with Word 'Koinonia' Karthik Nemmani defeated 12-year-old Naysa Modi, who misspelled the word bewusstseinslage By Lindsay Kimble Lindsay Kimble Lindsay Kimble is a Senior Digital News Editor and the Sports Editor for PEOPLE Digital. She's worked at PEOPLE for over seven years as a writer, reporter and editor across our Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams, covering everything from the Super Bowl to the Met Gala. She's been nominated for the ASME NEXT Awards for Journalists Under 30, and previously wrote for Us Weekly while on staff at Wenner Media. People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 1, 2018 11:42 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images It’s pizza party time! 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani, of McKinney, Texas, won the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night after correctly spelling the word, koinonia. The bee was Nemmani’s first time participating in the national finals. Nemmani was one of 515 spellers to participate in this year’s bee, winning over Naysa Modi, 12, in the eighteenth round when she misspelled bewusstseinslage. According to a press release, the winning word means an “intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.” ‘Resume,’ ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Fiancé’: The Hardest Words for Americans to Spell by Each State Among his prizes — which include $40,000 in cash and a trophy from Scipps and $2,500 and a reference library from Merriam-Webster — Nemmani also secured a Pizza Hut pizza party for his entire school in Texas. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The eighth-grade champion was able to compete in the bee through the new RSVBee invitational program, which allows parents to apply for their children to compete in the national finals without a sponsor. This year’s bee was the largest ever.