via cjzero

How does one manage to stay on top of the latest sneaker releases all while studying intensely for the highest level of spelling bee competition there is?

Ask Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, the latest winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, who immediately became Internet famous last night for the “Legend Blue” Jordan 11 pair he wore while crushing the competition at the event. He emerged as the co-champion, tying with Vanya Shivashankar for first place after all the words had been exhausted.

Gokul (the Internet is already shorthanding to refer to him solely by his first name, suggesting Kanye or Bono level stardom) has only been into sneaker collecting for about a year now, but he’s already got a decent stash of shoes. Take a look at the photos of Gokul from his previous finishes and you’ll notice that he almost always has on a pair of Jordans or a recent Nike Basketball release.

via St Louis Mag

Gokul said that he wore the Air Jordan 11 last night in hopes of channeling his inner Michael Jordan.

“Jordan, in my opinion, had some of his greatest performances in the 11s,” Gokul said in a phone interview the day after his big win. “And it’s like the ‘Legend Blues,’ I want to be a legend.”

Gokul said his favorite pairs of sneakers are the Jordan 11s he wore at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the recent Air Jordan 4 “Oreo” retro.

While he’s still young in the sneaker game, Gokul identifies with some of the same agonies grown collectors have dealt with for years.

“I usually get [sneakers] on the release day,” Gokul said, “But occasionally, I have to shell out the cash to a reseller. But I always find a good deal.”

Given the amount of hours Gokul dedicates to his spelling bee studies, he said that he doesn’t have the time to wait in line for sneakers. Instead, he does all his sneaker shopping online. He’s had to skip out on certain releases before because of how busy the spelling bee circuit keeps him.

“I had my regional spelling bee that you have to win to go to nationals. That was the day the gold Foamposites released,” Gokul explained. “I was bummed out, but it wasn’t worth crying over because I won the bee.”

He said that he’ll have to miss out on tomorrow’s “Chicago” Air Jordan 1 release as well since he’ll be otherwise occupied with media requests following his big win this week.

In co-winning the biggest bee of them all, Gokul brought home more than $35,000 in cash and prizes. As tempted as he may be to blow it all on sneakers, he said he’s setting it aside for better things.

“I’m gonna save this for college,” Gokul said. “I think that’s money that should be saved because, in the end, sneakers are cool, but it’s not the most important thing.”

Gokul said that sneaker names don’t give him any trouble spelling-wise. Even the toughest among them that he could think of is easy for him.

“D-O-E-R-N-B-E-C-H-E-R,” he rattled off during our interview, in reference to the series of sneakers from Nike and the Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Gokul is confident that he’s got the best sneaker collection of out anyone on the spelling bee circuit, and he said that he’s never seen other participants in Air Jordans and the like.

via WiscNews

When the sneaker media lit up last night with mentions of Gokul’s name, he was surprised to see that most of the outlets he gets his sneaker info from were suddenly giving him props.

“I was legitimately impressed. Pretty much all of the sites that I use to read up on sneakers had my name; that was pretty sick,” he said.

Gokul is a free agent right now as far as sneaker deals go, and he hopes he can leverage his newfound fame into some sort of endorsement deal. He made sure to mention that he’s looking for a partnership with Jordan Brand.

If anyone at Jordan Brand is listening, Gokul wears a 9.5.