By Lily Kuo
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 17-year-old boy from Wisconsin on Wednesday won an annual national texting competition for the second time, taking home $50,000 as he pledged to be back next year.
"I killed it," Austin Wierschke said, holding a check for his prize money in New York's Times Square where the contest, sponsored by LG Mobile, took place.
Wierschke, the contest's 2011 champion, beat out 10 others, aged 16 to 24, who had been winnowed down from over 100,000 competitors during preliminary rounds conducted since May.
The contenders texted a line from "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while wearing black out goggles, transcribed a phrase written backward, and completed other challenges meant to test their texting accuracy, speed and dexterity.
Wierschke, a high school student from the small town of Rhinelander in northeastern Wisconsin, won by texting a 149-character message with capitalization, punctuation and various symbols, in 39 seconds.
He is the only two-time winner of the 5-year-old texting competition, the nation's largest.
"I'll see you next year... bring it on," said Wierschke.
Wierschke said he practiced by texting friends, typing up random phrases and words, and having his mom read off phrases that he would text with his eyes closed.
Kent Augustine, 16, from New York, lost to Wierschke by a few seconds in the last round.
This year's group of competitors, flown from Montana, Texas and California among other states, is a sign of the continued popularity of texting, the contenders all agreed.
"I like texting because you think more about what you say," Wierschke said.
LG Mobile is a unit of LG Electronics
(Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Cynthia Osterman)