The whirlwind tour for Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee co-champion Nihar Janga of Austin landed at the Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch headquarters Wednesday.
Janga has made the rounds on CNN, Live with Kelly, The Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel, but nothing would compare to watching a Cowboys practice and finally meeting his idol Dez Bryant.
He met the Cowboys star receiver before practice. They exchanged hugs and then formed a mutual admiration by the end of the day.
“This is the best day of my life,” Janga said.
Bryant was overwhelmed.
“It means everything to me. For a kid to tell me that, that is everything,” Bryant said. “It only makes you want to work harder. Those are people you try your best not to let down. I was speechless.
Janga and Bryant became connected when the 11-year old threw up the receiver’s trademark “X” sign after being named co-champion of the spelling bee in May.
Bryant took to Twitter to congratulate Janga, saying “#NiharJanga you just made my whole day buddy...Congrats on winning the #spellingbee champ.. Some how some way I have to get you to a game #x.”
Janga might just get to a game as the guest of Bryant this year or maybe all of them.
“I told him he is coming to all the home games,” Bryant said. “He is right down the street in Austin. He is coming to all of them.”
But on Wednesday, he and his family basked in the glow of meeting coach Jason Garrett during his weekly news conference, taking in a practice and then meeting Bryant.
Toward the end of Garrett’s news briefing, Janga stood up asked the coach if he could spell the world “geselleshaft”.
Garrett said he couldn’t and summoned Janga to the podium to spell the word in front of the media. He did and even offered a definition of the word to the astonishment of the coach.
“How in the world do you know this word, the definition and how to spell it?” Garrett asked.
“My mom helps me a lot to prepare,” Janga said. “She looks through lists and helps me prepare and I found this in one of the lists she prepared.”
Garrett and Janga threw up “the X” together. Garrett told Janga he was going to have him cover Bryant in practice and then have the receiver spell a word for him.
Garrett also introduced him to the team after practice.
But the person he had the most interaction with and the most impact on was his idol.
Bryant had never watched the spelling bee until this year after Janga threw up the X and his phone started blowing up.
“He is outstanding,” Bryant said. “You can tell he is an extremely hard worker. It shows you how great he is. I was minding my own business and my phone started blowing up and everybody going crazy on my Twitter and I tuned in.
“I was like that’s what’s up. He made me feel good inside. This kid is amazing. He really thinks that much of me. That’s the stuff that drives me when I see stuff like that.”