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AMERICAN MORNING

Interview With National Geographic Bee Champion

Aired May 22, 2003 - 09:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Every year -- for the 15th year young people all around country have taken part in the National Geographic Bee down in Washington, D.C. They spend hours memorizing foreign leaders, rare rocks, and all kind of other things in order to hone their expertise.
Yesterday, James Williams, who is a 14-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, had his defining moment. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY": Goa, until 1961, was a possession of Portugal and that means that James Williams is the 2003 National Geographic Bee champion. Congratulations to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: He's home schooled. He joins us now from our studios over there at Penn Plaza. He won a $25,000 scholarship. He has already taken his SATs and scored, I think, 1500, right James?

JAMES WILLIAMS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BEE CHAMPION: 1520.

CAFFERTY: Oh, excuse me. 1520.

(CROSSTALK)

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I like him.

CAFFERTY: Bad research here.

Did you know, at the moment they asked that tie breaker question, I've got this thing nailed?

WILLIAMS: No. I thought that he would get the question also. I -- it was a hard question, but he knew a lot.

CAFFERTY: Yes, it was. You were schooled at home.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CAFFERTY: How did that help you for this?

WILLIAMS: Being home schooled gives me flexibility, so I'm able to spend time on geography, but I also -- I still have to do things in math and science and all of the other subjects, like English. CAFFERTY: Now, have you completed what amounts to a high school education already? You said you got 1520 on the SATs. My guess is they just give you diploma if you ask for it. But I mean, are you ready to go to college now?

WILLIAMS: I don't know about right now. I would like to go to college as soon as I can, but...

CAFFERTY: What do you want to study? Do you have any idea yet? I mean, besides geography?

WILLIAMS: I like science, so maybe physics. Physics might be a possibility.

CAFFERTY: We asked this question of the viewers before we got to the last commercial break, can I run this by you, see if you can figure it out?

WILLIAMS: OK.

CAFFERTY: I have no doubt you will. Which item does not belong on this list and why? Mistral, chinook, sirocco, chaparral, shamal.

WILLIAMS: It's chaparral, because that is the only one that isn't a wind.

CAFFERTY: Oh, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Wow.

CAFFERTY: I should have had you come over and tutor my 18-year- old on her SATs. She didn't score nearly that high. Do you ever regret not going to, like, a regular school where you hang out and spend your days with a bunch of other kids?

WILLIAMS: I've never gone to a public school before, so I don't really know...

CAFFERTY: So you don't know what you are missing, right?

WILLIAMS: I like home schooling.

CAFFERTY: Sounds like you are doing all right to me. All right. Listen, James. I appreciate you spending a couple minutes with us on AMERICAN MORNING. Congratulations. You are a very bright young man and I'm sure your future will hold great things. And for what it is worth, nobody in this studio could answer any of those questions. Nice to have you with us. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

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