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Nebraska Youth Wins US National Geographic Bee


An 11-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska has won the 2008 National Geographic Bee with a flawless quiz score. Akshay Rajagopal is only the second winner in the Bee's 20-year history with a perfect performance. The win earned the six-grader $25,000 and a trip to the next international Geographic Bee competition. VOA's Jeffrey Young was there.

Some National Geography Bee questions come straight from today's headlines.

Alex Trebek, Natioinal Georgrphic Bee host and moderator asked: "In May of 2008 - this year - the largest Chinese earthquake in over 50 years occurred in Sichuan Province. Name the capital of the province, which is located about 50 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake."

Other Bee questions are, for most people, beyond even a good guess.

Trebek: "Makoca is a type of music popular in which country, which lies north of the island of Bioko?

It did not matter how obscure the question was to 11-year-old Akshay Rajagopal of Lincoln, Nebraska. He knew the answers. All of them. And that is how he pocketed the top prize of $25,000.

Trebek: "Cochabamba is the third-largest conervation [aggregation of urban communities] in what country?" "Hunter, you wrote down 'Honduras?'

Akshay answered "Bolivia."

Trebek: "Cochabamba is the third-largest conervation in the country of - Bolivia! That means that Akshay is our champion! For the second, second year in a row, ladies and gentlemen, the National Geographic Bee champion is a student who has not missed one question. [He] Didn't miss one in the preliminary rounds yesterday. [He] Did not miss one today. Akshay, way to go!"

Akshay Rajagopal's victory came in stages. First, he had to be the winner at his school, then, at the state level. Then came the trip to Washington, D.C. and besting 54 other contestants, one from each of the U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia. The ten top contestants made it to the final round.

Ashkay says he used a lot of things for learning about the world, "I study a lot by watching DVDs, and I study a book called Grollier's Lands and People."

Now Askay Rajagopal and the second and third place finishers move on to the international round of the National Geographic Bee, where they will go up against teams from countries all over the globe.