Sameer Mishra won the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington on Friday by correctly spelling the word guerdon, which appropriately means reward.

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Sameer Mishra, after winning the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington on Friday. ((Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press))

Mishra, 13, from West Lafayette, Ind., won $35,000 in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and thousands of dollars worth of reference books.

He's a reader, enjoys video games, has played the violin for four years in his school orchestra and wants to be a neurosurgeon.

It was his fourth appearance at the bee,  after moving up the rankings from ties for 98th, 14th and 16th place in the previous three competitions.

He beat first-time contestant Sidharth Chand, 12, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Sameer was coached by his sister, Shruti, a high school student and three-time bee contestant.

The last seven Canadian contestants were eliminated earlier Friday for flubbing such words as accordatura (the notes to which a stringed instrument is tuned), tonneau (an early style of touring car) and otacariasis (an infestation of the ear with mites).

"Seven up, seven down," said Pam Penny of Ancaster, Ont. Her daughter, Veronica, was one of the seven.

Frank Neuhauser, 94, who won the first bee in 1925 with gladiolus (a flower), said : "It was a lot easier back then."  He only had to beat seven others; Mishra vanquished 287. " I'd never make it now,"    Neuhauser said.

He won $500, and was honoured with a parade in his hometown, Louisville, Ky.