Washington, D.C.,
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Rishi Nair of Florida Wins 2016 National Geographic Bee and $50,000 College Scholarship

Students from Massachusetts and Alabama Take Second and Third Place

Rishi Nair of Seffner, Florida, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Williams Magnet Middle School, took top honors at the 28th annual National Geographic Bee held today at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition to earning the title of National Geographic Bee champion, Rishi received a $50,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. He will also travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, on a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic eight-day adventure to Southeast Alaska aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion, including a stop at Glacier Bay National Park, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Society.

The second-place winner and recipient of a $25,000 college scholarship was 14-year-old Saketh Jonnalagadda of Westford, Massachusetts, an eighth-grader at Stony Brook Middle School. Third place and a $10,000 college scholarship went to Kapil Nathan of Hoover, Alabama, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School, who was also among the 2015 top 10 finalists.

In the nail-biting, seven-question final round between Rishi and Saketh, Rishi took the lead after the first question by correctly answering: “The Gotthard Base Tunnel, expected to open in early June, will be the world’s longest rail tunnel. This tunnel is located in which country?” Answer: “Switzerland.”

Saketh did not answer the first question correctly but caught up when Rishi incorrectly answered the fifth question: “An active lighthouse is located on a cape that is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. Name this cape.” Answer: “Cape Byron.”

The final question, which clinched the win for Rishi, was: “A new marine sanctuary will protect sharks and other wildlife around Isla Wolf in which archipelago in the Pacific Ocean?” Answer: “Galápagos Islands.”

Fifty-four state and territory winners took part in the preliminary rounds of the 2016 National Geographic Bee on Monday, May 23. The top 10 finishers in the preliminary rounds met in this morning’s final round, which was moderated for the first time by journalist and humorist Mo Rocca. The seven other finalists, who each won $500, were Grace Rembert, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Bozeman, Montana; Rishi Kumar, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Ellicott City, Maryland; Pranay Varada, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Irving, Texas; Lucas Eggers, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Rochester, Minnesota; Samanyu Dixit, a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Matthews, North Carolina; Thomas Wright, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Mequon, Wisconsin; and Ashwin Sivakumar, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Beaverton, Oregon.

The final round of the Bee will be aired on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, May 27. It will also be aired on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.

Almost 3 million students in 11,000 schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Atlantic and Pacific territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools took part in the 2016 National Geographic Bee.

MEDIA NOTE: Photos and video assets from the competition are available via Dropbox (required caption and credit info enclosed).

About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. Through our grants and programs, we aspire to create a community of change, advancing key insights about our planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Our goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.org.