Classmates threw a big party for Varun Mahadevan at Prince of Peace Lutheran School Tuesday morning after the 7th-grader took third place in the National Geographic Bee in Washington D.C. last week.
All the attention seems to make him a little uncomfortable, but it also looks like he's starting to accept his new celebrity status. Local celebrations and national attention is becoming the norm for the 13-year-old and he's trying to keep it all in stride. "Before the flight and at Washington D.C., I got a bit tired of it, but yes, I think the fame is worth it," he told ABC7 News.
His teachers and classmates at in Fremont couldn't be prouder of him. "I saw one of our eighth-graders pull him aside as he was at his locker and just kind of put his arm around him, and say, 'Varun you were awesome and you looked so good on TV,' you know, 'You did a great job,'" Principal Dan Dueck recalled.
Varun took third place in the contest, coming home with $10,000 which he plans to put toward the cost of college. "I'd like to go to Harvard. I haven't thought about career," he said. As he settles back into normal life, Varun says he can't help but think about what he could have done differently to win the top prize. "Maybe if I had studied a bit more, I may have come first place, but it's hard to remember all the lakes and stuff maybe," he said.
He studied 6 to 8 hours a day for two weeks. He says he'd like to find other contests to enter but right now, his school wants to celebrate this big accomplishment. "I don't feel proud, exactly, or embarrassed. I feel in the middle, not too proud like boastful, but content," he said.
"He's handling things very well. He's keeping himself in check. It's fun. He'll be good," Dueck said.
Watch out Alex Trebeck. Varun says he wants to go on Jeopardy one day. He's also working on grooming his 5-year-old sister who he says is starting to show an interest in geography.