March 15, 2014. Louisville, KY. – Paul Keaton of Pike County won the 21st annual Ford Motor Company Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee today by correctly spelling “chignon” – a roll or knot of hair worn at the back of the head or a especially at the nape of the neck – at the Ballroom of the Kosair Shrine Club at Spalding University. Ian Kimbell of Floyd County, Indiana was runner-up in the competition among students from Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
Keaton, 12, is a seventh grade student at Christ Central School in Pikeville, Ky. His older sister, Emily Keaton, was the reigning champion, having won the KDF Spelling Bee from 2010-2013. 61 students from 60 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana participated in today’s Spelling Bee, going through 178 words and 12 rounds before determining a champion.
“It feels great to continue something that we’ve been a part of for so long,” said Keaton. “I’ve studied a dictionary for a couple hours every day to prepare. You have to stay completely focused to do your best.”
For today’s win, Keaton received the John & Joan Murphy Memorial Scholarship Fund, a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond at maturity from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation, the Derby Festival’s charitable arm. He also received a Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Hasbro Scrabble game, Amazon.com gift card and a trophy. Paul will have the opportunity to ride on the Winner’s Float in the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade on May 1.
Ian Kimbell received a $5,000 savings bond for finishing runner-up in the 21st annual competition. Lauryn Grady of Jefferson County Catholic Schools finished third, winning a $3,000 savings bond. Nupur Chhachhi of Warren County finished fourth and received a $1,500 savings bond. Julia Radhakrishnan of Fayette County finished fifth, winning a $1,000 savings bond.
The Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee is sponsored by Ford Motor Company, with contributing sponsors Kentucky Monthly and 84WHAS.
Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.