Meet 2016 Spelling Bee co-champion Nihar Janga

Meet 2016 Spelling Bee co-champion Nihar Janga
Posted at 6:15 PM, May 31, 2017

On Thursday, the finalists of the Scripps National Spelling Bee will take the stage. There will be only one — err, maybe two (as there has been the last two years) champions.

But before the spellers take the stage, let's chat with Nihar Janga, one of the 2016 co-champions.

In case there was ever any doubt: Nihar really is the Greatest of All Time.

He wore a GOAT placard when spelling outside the ballroom earlier this week.

Nihar caught up with us about his experience a year after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

He said it was weird to meet so many famous people – like one of his inspirations, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Nihar threw up Bryant’s signature move, an X with his arms, when he learned he was a winner.

“It was a really famous person I see every time on TV making awesome catched and I just ran up to him and hugged him,” Nihar said. “He was my best inspiration. I was so happy, I couldn’t even respond” when he asked how Nihar was feeling.

Nihar spent most of a day with Bryant, and watched him break a record on the sit-and-reach.

He also met neurosurgeons at New York’s Lenox Hill hospital, a job he’d like to have some day.

“You meet all these famous people,” he said. “It’s kind of weird. I knew they were famous, but they turned out just to be normal people.”

Nihar said it’s been great to be back at the Bee – he’s a lot more relaxed this year, now that he’s no longer competing.

And over the past year, he’s been glad to spend time with Jairam Hathwar, his co-champion.

“It’s awesome to spend the time with someone who has the same experience you do,” he said. “I’m really happy that I’m back here where I was before.”