NEW YORK (AFP) - A 17-year-old boy retained his title as America’s fastest texter in a duel of the thumbs staged before yelling fans in New York’s Times Square.

Austin Weirschke took home $50,000 in prize money for the second time in two years when he bested 10 other texting demons in feats of thumb speed, memory and fluency in texting shorthand.

One round was performed with contestants blindfolded and having 45 seconds to type the verse: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”

The event, sponsored by LG Electronics and using the company’s cell phones, took place on a traffic island in Times Square.

About 200 onlookers, including cheering relatives and mostly teenage texting aficionados, gathered around the stage.

Weirschke said he became a prolific texter thanks to practice with his mother, whom he dubbed “my texting coach.”

But when asked to describe his victory, he must have wished he could text his reply. Facing a microphone, the humble winner could only manage: “I don’t really know what to say.”

Weirschke faced some mean competition — 10 whiz kids from around the country, with the oldest just 24 years old and the majority in their teens.