Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
President Bush welcomes Sameer Mishra to White House Wednesday.

After winning the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in May on the word "guerdon," which is a noun meaning a reward, Indiana ninth-grader Sameer Mishra got another reward Wednesday: a trip to the Oval Office.

"My heart was thumping," said Sameer of West Lafayette, Ind. "I've never met a president before."

Just back from cheering on American athletes at the Olympics, President Bush spent about 10 minutes with Sameer and his family, congratulating them on Sameer's victory and telling them the history of the desk he uses and the oval rug he helped pick out for the floor.

Among the parting gifts Sameer received was a baseball with the presidential seal that Bush autographed: "To Sameer. Congratulations. Best Always."