The degree of difficulty in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee has increased dramatically in the past two decades. In earlier eras, the champion won on words such as luge, abalone, croissant and incisor. Challenging, but not ridiculous.

Arvind Mahankali of New York won this year's Bee, which began in 1925 for kids under 16.

Mahankali, 13, clinched the championship Thursday night in Washington by spelling knaidel.

Here's a look at the final words for other recent champions.

Highlights of Mahankali's prize package are $30,000 in cash, a $2,500 savings bond and reference materials valued at $2,000.

Runner-up Pranav Sivakumar stumbled on the cyanophycean. That meant Mahankali had to spell two words correctly to win. He handled tokonoma and then knaidel.

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