Oklahoma’s Geography Bee Champ has a bedroom made for studying the world

EDMOND, Okla. -- His parents know better than to send 14-year-old Michael Tipton to his room for time out.

After all, he's got the whole world in there right at his fingertips.

"Australia, Spain, Hungary, Canada," he says pointing to a collection of large flags hanging over his bed.

From flags of the world to books on geography, he's been studying everything about the globe for the past four years.

Don't bother Michael when he's poring over maps.

He won't answer many questions, especially from a visitor who wouldn't know Montenegro from Montpelier.

"Is there any particular way you study?" asks his visitor.

"I don't know," he replies without glancing up. "I just look at it."

"Do they give you areas to study for this quiz?" the visitor pursues.

"No," he says. "Just everything."

Micheal's parents tell us he always liked maps.

Then, in the 3rd grade, he found out about the National Geographic Geography Bee including all the prizes, scholarships, and one specific prize that caught his eye.

"If I win, I get a lifetime subscription to National Geographic."

That's when his focus turned laser-like, peering closer and closer until he knew all that stuff in the tiny print too.

"When he found out there was a competition for something he loved that much, he was ready to go," says Kelli Tipton, his mom.

It took him three tries to win the state competition.

He also had to get a little more comfortable in front of a microphone.

"I don't like hearing my own voice," Michael admits.

"He's four or five years in," queries the visitor.

"Yes," agrees dad James Tipton.

"That's like a college degree in Geography," we say.

"I know right? And almost as much money invested in books."

Kelli says, "He helped me when I was studying for my master's degree."

The 2019 Nat Geo Geography Bee was May 19 through May 22.

First Prize includes a $25,000 scholarship, $1,000 in cash, a trip to the Galápagos Islands, and that coveted lifetime subscription to National Geographic Magazine.

For more information on the contest or results, go to the National Geographic website.

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