U.S. News


Va. Eighth-Grader Wins 2014 National Geographic Bee

Akhil Rekulapelli, 13, has been crowned the winner of the 2014 National Geographic Bee. The Virginia student worked toward this goal for four years.
Posted at 2:19 PM, May 22, 2014

Meet the Northern Virginia eighth-grader who beat nine other students from across the U.S. to become this year's National Geographic Bee champion.

"Akhil Rekulapelli, congratulations to you, representing the state of Virginia."

"I've worked so hard over four years to get to this level, and I was just so happy." ​(Via WJLA)

It's been the 13-year-old's dream to win big at the annual bee, which challenges students to answer some of the toughest geography questions, well, in the world.

But according to the Loudoun Times, ​Akhil knew he really wanted to win after finishing fourth in last year's competition. And he finally did it Wednesday by answering all three questions right in a one-on-one round with the youngest of the 10 finalists. 

And the deciding question? 

"Oyala, a planned city located in the rainforest 65 miles east of Bata, is being built as a new capital for which African country?" (Via National Geographic)

The answer is Equatorial Guinea. But you already knew that, right?

After the grueling competition, Akhil told National Geographic the secret to his success — a long-distance study system with a coach in Florida. "My coach gives me tips and tricks, like about what questions they'll ask and how to respond. Then I really try to get a good outlook on very big countries, like Canada and Spain. I also have to make sure I stay on top of the news, like by watching CNN and other channels, to make sure I know about changes."

He told CBS he even gave up sports and after-school activities to focus on preparing for the bee. The eighth-grader says he studied for three hours a night on school nights and eight hours on weekends.

And it was well worth it — along with bragging rights, Akhil won a $50,000 college scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic's Lindblad Expeditions.

So, what's next for Akhil? He says he wants to become a physician someday and work with Doctors Without Borders.