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Michigan Teen Wins Geography Bee

May 20, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Petko Peev, a Bulgarian-born 13-year-old who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., correctly named the most populous country in the European Union today to win the 1998 National Geography Bee.

For his achievement, the 8th-grader at Forest Hills Central Middle School takes home a $25,000 scholarship. He won in a quick final round against J. B. Kizer, a 13-year-old homeschooler from Portsmouth, Ohio.

Both youngsters were among the 10 remaining contestants in the final round of the two-day bee. Fifty-seven children aged 12 to 14 participated in the competition at the National Geographic Society, with one from each state, one from the District of Columbia, one from the Department of Defense schools and five from U.S. territories.

Kizer had said Russia was the most populous country in the European Union, but the correct answer was Germany, which has more than 80 million people. Russia’s population is 150 million, but it does not belong to the European Union. The question was one of five in the championship round. Peev answered four correctly and Kizer answered three.

Kizer, also a National Spelling Bee finalist, receives a $15,000 scholarship.

The third place winner was Evan Sparks, 14, an 8th-grader at Westminster Academy in Memphis, Tenn. He takes home a $10,000 scholarship.

``I studied all the National Geographics I could find, especially all the interactive stuff,″ Peev said. ``It’s important when you hear about something that you know where it is.″

It was the third time Peev represented Michigan in the bee.

The hype surrounding the movie ``Titanic″ apparently reached neither of the two finalists. Both missed a question about where the ill-fated ship was made. Peev said Liverpool; Kizer said Portsmouth; but the ill-fated ship was actually built in Belfast.

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