An eighth-grader from northern Virginia outlasted young scholars from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and seven other states to win the National Geographic Bee on Wednesday.
Akhil Rekulapelli of Sterling, Virginia, finished fourth in last year's bee. This year, the 14-year-old answered all three questions right in a one-on-one showdown with the youngest of the 10 finalists, 11-year-old Ameya Mujumdar, of Tampa, Florida.
The decisive question: What African country is building a new capital called Oyala in the rain forest, 65 miles east of the current capital, Bala? The answer: Equatorial Guinea.
Akhil receives a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands with his family and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.
Akhil says he aspires to become a surgeon. He says winning the bee is his greatest accomplishment so far.
The finalists included Max Levine, an eighth-grader at the Wheeler School in Providence, and Nicholas Rommel, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Diamond Middle School in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien hosted Wednesday's finals, which will air Thursday night on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD.
The program will also air at noon Saturday on Rhode Island PBS.NBC 10 News contributed to this report.