(CNN) Karthik Nemmani, a soft-spoken eighth-grader from McKinney, Texas, hadn't been to the National Spelling Bee before, but he had already been in a battle with 12-year-old Naysa Modi.
In their county spelling bee, Naysa won, but Thursday, Karthik came out on top -- successfully navigating through words like "aver," "paucispiral," "ankyloglossia," "haecceitas" and finally "koinonia" to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The Greek word "koinonia" -- most commonly pronounced "koy-nuh-NEE-uh" -- is defined as "intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community."
When asked whether having Naysa, who is from Frisco, and other friends at the national finals helped, the unassuming Karthik said: "Yeah, I guess."
Naysa, who prepared her answers by miming as though typing on a keyboard, finished second after incorrectly spelling "Bewusstseinslage," leaving out the second S.
Thursday's finals went 18 rounds.
Karthik wins $40,000 in cash, a trophy, encyclopedias and $2,500 savings bond.