Rockdale teen Ava Gude is a lightning fast texter, but just not backwards.
The 17-year-old Rockdale Magnet School student fell in the fifth round of the LG U.S. National Texting Contest when contestants were asked to spell out texts backwards.
"Aww, she's out in the fifth round, but still a winner of a free trip to NYC and a winner to us," said her mother Stephanie Nunez. "This just means that her scholarship establishments will have to wait a while longer."
The eventual winner was defending texting champion Austin Wierschke, 16, of Queens, NY.
The 11 finalists, ranging in age from 16 to 24 years old, gathered in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday afternoon for a chance to win $50,000 and the ultimate texting crown.
Contestants battled on the LG Optimus Zip, an Android phone with a slide-out physical keyboard.
In the first two rounds, called Text Attached in a New York Minute, the contestant had to text whatever was next to them as fast as possible.
The third round was called Do you Speak Text where the contestant had to translate text lingo into English.
When the contestants got to the fourth round they had to text a phrase while blinded by black-out goggles.
The fifth round, also called the The Txet sdrawkcab round, was where contestants had to text messages backwards.
The contest began in 2007 and has brought in 500 people showcasing their texting speed, accuracy and dexterity in an effort to win $25,000 prizes. The very first champion was a 13-year-old Morgan Pozgard.
Gude saw this unique contest last year while watching MTV. “I signed up and I didn’t get in,” said Gude, “I had to be the first to text a phrase they sent me, in order to go to the next phase. I wasn’t as fast last year.”
This year she almost forgot about the contest but remembered just in time. And this time she qualified in the opening round and was notified that she would get an all expense trip paid to New York to go to the next round competing with 10 other contestants from across the United States.
“I was so excited, I’d never been to New York and of course the chance to win $50,000 is great," she exclaimed.
Gude spends her texting time messaging on average 200 texts "on a slow day" to her friends, boyfriend and mother.
Although texting is a hobby for Gude, her passion is science. As a sophomore she attended Vanderbilt’s Forensic Science Program. She’s also traveled to Europe with the People to People Ambassador Program and was offered several academic scholarships. However, her heart fell for Campbell University in North Carolina. She had planned to use any money she won from the contest towards college for studying pre-pharmacy.
Her parents are proud. “No matter how unconventional the contest may be, we are her biggest fans,” said Kaphi and Stephanie Nunez.
The competition will also highlight LG’s partnership with Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign which works to prevent bullying in communities throughout the U.S. By texting “Join LG” to 27777, LG will give $1 to fund anti-bullying toolkits that will be distributed to middle schools and high schools across the nation to help inform teachers and students on how to prevent bullying.
For more information on the LG U.S. National Texting Championship, visit www.facebook.com/lgtexterus.