Past National Spelling Bee Champs, All Grown Up, Share What Life After Winning Is Like

PHOTO: Amy Marie Dimak won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1990 after correctly spelling the word "fibranne". PlayABC News
WATCH This Is What Spelling Bee Triumph Looks Like

Tonight, a member or two could be added to the National Spelling Bee Champions list, a special group that counts fewer than 100 members since the first contest 90 years ago.

And the young winner or co-winners will inevitably be in the national limelight for the next few weeks after winning the grand prize of $35,000 combined in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and over $1,100 worth of reference works.

But what's life like years after the Bee for a few of these champs?

ABC News looked at four past winners, all grown up, who shared what they're up to today.

Rageshree (Raga) Ramachandran, 1988 champion

PHOTO: Raga Ramachandran won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1988 after correctly spelling the word elegiacal. ABC News
Raga Ramachandran won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1988 after correctly spelling the word "elegiacal".

Ramachandran took home the top prize in 1988 at the Bee when she was 13 for spelling the word "elegiacal," an expression of sorrow.

Today, she's a doctor and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, where she practices medicine and teaches.

"My clinical work is in diagnostic surgical pathology with an emphasis on liver and gastrointestinal disease," Ramachandran wrote on her UCSF bio. "My current research focus is on markers expressed by hepatocellular carcinoma versus tumors metastatic to the liver. In the education realm, I oversee pathology curriculum for first- and second-year UCSF medical students, direct the Path 150.03 senior medical student elective, and advise the Pathology Student Interest Group."

Amy Dimak King, 1990 champion

PHOTO: Amy Marie Dimak won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1990 after correctly spelling the word fibranne. ABC News
Amy Marie Dimak won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1990 after correctly spelling the word "fibranne".

King, now 38, saw herself on billboards and rode in a Seattle parade in a limo when she was 13 after correctly spelling "fibranne," a fabric made of spun-rayon yarn.

But King told ABC News she was "always more of a math and science person," and she went on to study biochemistry at the University of Washington, where she also met her future husband.

"To this day, he still likes to randomly tell people I was the winner of the National Spelling Bee, and they'll ask me to spell something, and I'm just like, are you serious?" King said, laughing.

After a few years of doing research for biotech labs in Seattle, King said she decided to be a stay-at-home mom for her three children, two of whom have a knack for spelling but who probably won't be joining the Bee.

Now that her kids are a little older, King is a working as a nurse at a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, where she lives with her family, she said.

Ned Andrews, 1994 champion

Andrews, now 34, was only 13 when he won the Bee after spelling the word "antediluvian," a reference to the period before the flood described in the Bible.

"Everything was a blur and whirlwind right after I spelled the winning word," Andrews told ABC News. "I remember they flew me on a corporate jet to Disney World, I got to do interviews, be in a parade and it was all pretty cool."

Because Andrews was always an "argumentative little snot since a young age," and thanks to an ethics class in high school, he said he became interested in issues of human rights and pursued law. He attended Yale University for undergraduate studies and received his law degree at the University of Virginia.

Today, Andrews is a public defender for the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission. And fun fact: Andrews met the love of his life on dating website OKCupid in 2011 and is happily married, he said.

Wendy Guey Lai, 1996 champion

PHOTO: Wendy Guey, right, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1996 after correctly spelling the word vivisepulture. ABC News
Wendy Guey, right, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 1996 after correctly spelling the word "vivisepulture".

Lai, now 31 was featured on "The Jay Leno Show" and "Good Morning America" when she was 12 after correctly spelling "vivisepulture," or burying someone alive.

The Bee champ went on to study economics as an undergraduate at Harvard, where she also later went back for a degree in education.

"Winning the Bee is something I do put on my resume, but it's not something I go around telling everyone," Lai told ABC News today. "It's something I'll just use randomly like for ice breakers where you share a random fact about yourself."

After a career in finance and teaching high school math in Boston public schools for a few years, Lai said she's now a stay-at-home mom with two young boys: one 3 and the other 2. And though they love reading, she said she's not sure whether the boys would want to compete in the Bee in the future.

"My older son is just really into Ninja turtles right now, and they're both so young, so we still have a while to go before seeing if they're interested in anything beyond Donatello and Michelangelo," she joked.

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