What is the Bavarian city located on the Danube River that was a legislative seat of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806? Without a deep knowledge of geography or the Holy Roman Empire, most people wouldn’t be able to answer that question, but a 14-year-old student from Sugarland, Texas, answered the geography stumper to win the National Geographic Bee Championship.
The finals, which were held in Washington, D.C., today, came down to newcomer Rahul Nagvekar and geography bee veteran Vansh Jain of Minocqua , Wisc., who was making his third appearance in the finals. As host Alex Trebek described, it was either the “year of the rookie or the year of the veteran.”
Nagvekar answered correctly by naming the city Regensburg though he admitted to ABC News that it was just a guess.
Nagvekar, who said he fell in love with geography when his parents gave him a globe at the age of 3, said he didn’t expect to win the competition on his first try, but stuck to a plan throughout the contest.
“Truthfully, no. I was not necessarily expecting to win. But at the same time I knew that if I was calm and I focused on everything and I listened to all of the questions that I would be able to get a good number right and I knew I could do well if I executed the plan properly,” Nagvekar told ABC News.
“I wanted to be on the stage until the very, very last question, so at the end it didn’t really matter if I came in second or first. Obviously I would try for first, but if that didn’t happen, it was at least good enough to be there until the very last question because for the last four years, I’ve always watched the finals from television, and I didn’t want to do that this year. I wanted to be on the other side of things.”
Nagvekar just celebrated his 14th birthday on Tuesday during the start of the preliminary competition, making his win today an extra special birthday gift.
“It was a wonderful present. I don’t think I can ask for more,” he said.
President Obama joined in on the competition, taping a video message congratulating the participants and asking them to answer what city hosted the Nuclear Security Summit he attended this March. Nine out of 10 contestants in the finals answered correctly with Seoul.
As champion, Nagvekar won a $25,000 scholarship and an all expense paid trip to the Galapagos Islands. Second place finisher Jain won $15,000 in scholarship, and the third place winner, Varun Mahadevan from Fremont, Calif., won a $10,000 scholarship. Approximately 4 million students from across the country participated in the competition this year.
Geo Bee 2012 will air on the National Geographic Channel at 8 p.m. on Thursday night.