AUSTRALIA loves an underdog and Anirudh was certainly up against tough competition on The Great Australian Spelling Bee tonight.
The nine-year-old, who hopes to be a surgeon, proved too good for eight-year-old Grace, from New South Wales, in a thrilling grand final decider which lasted 10 rounds.
The two word whizzes correctly spelled a range of tricky words including aardvark, ricochet, psychoanalyst and camaraderie.
One of the strongest spellers throughout the series Mica, dubbed "The Micanator" for her determination and skill, was tipped to go head-to-head against Grace in a repeat of the NSW Premier's Spelling Bee final earlier this year.
But the disappointed youngster had to settle for third place after failing to spell "antecedent" correctly.
Grace received a standing ovation from the audience, which included the Top 26 spellers in the series, after she tripped up on the word "ratatouille".
Victorian schoolboy Anirudh was rewarded for his perseverance with a $50,000 educational scholarship as well as other prizes.
"I need to rub my eyes and see if this is a dream," he said.
"Nope. Nope. Nope. Real. Pinch me someone. I can't describe it. It's like the best day of my life."
Finalists Harrison, Harpita and Marko finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
All of the finalists also took home $10,000 educational scholarships, HP tablets and prizes for their schools.
Channel 10 has already renewed the popular family series, hosted by Grant Denyer and Chrissie Swan, for a second season.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.