Ananya Vinay, the best speller in America after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee, might have met her match.
The 12-year-old appeared on Friday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show and went head-to-head with Kimmel himself in the show’s “War of Words” competition.
Dressed in her yellow 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee champion T-shirt, Ananya was brought on stage for a mock spelling bee competition in which Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo was the “expert word pronouncer.”
The competition seemed like it would go right for Ananya, but Guillermo’s famous accent likely surprised her. It started out with the Clovis Unified Fugman Elementary School sixth grader trying to spell the word “sleuth.” Guillermo, dressed in a bee costume, pronounced it like “say-lute,” leading Ananya to spell “salute” instead.
Up next was Kimmel, who correctly spelled the word “yarmulke,” although Guillermo had given it his distinctive mispronunciation. Kimmel scored a point and Ananya was up again, trying to spell “coalesce.” Guillermo told her to concentrate as he repeatedly mispronounced it.
But Ananya did not spell the word correctly and it was again Kimmel’s turn, who was given the word “poignant,” which Guillermo had pronounced “poy-jay-nat.” A stumped Kimmel sat down, telling Ananya, “I don’t know what it is, I don’t know,” as she giggled.
Then, it was all on Ananya to correctly spell a butchered version of the word “luscious” that Guillermo pronounced as “loose-see-ohs.” When she asked for its origin, Guillermo said “It is a funny word.” And when she asked for its language of origin, Guillermo said, “I have no idea.”
But Ananya managed to yet again spell her way to success. She quickly spelled “l-u-s-c-i-o-u-s,” with no help from Guillermo, resulting in a 1-1 tie and a colossal trophy that was tall enough for Ananya to hide behind as colorful streamers were blasted onto the stage.
Watch the full clip below.