National Geographic Bee

Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

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Pranay Varada of Irving, Texas, the 14-year-old champion took top honors at the 29th annual National Geographic Bee held on May 17, 2017 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.


In addition to earning the title of National Geographic Bee champion, Pranay received a $50,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. He will also travel, all expenses paid, on a Lindblad expedition to the Galápagos Islands.


The second-place winner and recipient of a $25,000 college scholarship was 14-year-old Thomas Wright of Mequon, Wisconsin.Third place and a $10,000 college scholarship went to Veda Bhattaram of Pine Brook, New Jersey.


During an intense six-question tiebreaker round to determine the champion, Thomas took the lead only to be challenged by Pranay. Each Bee contestant is given one opportunity to challenge the answer to be determined by the judges. The question was “Mu Gia Pass, a strategic pass and a key point of entry to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, lies in what mountain range?” The judges decided to accept both answers: Annam and Annamite.


The sixth and final question, which clinched the win for Pranay, was: “What large mountain system that stretches more than 1,200 miles separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau?” Answer: “Kunlun Mountains"


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