14-year-old pulls off historic spelling bee win in Orlando
A 14-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana made history on Thursday when she won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee — becoming the first African American contestant to win.
Zaila Avant-garde’s winning word was “murraya” which is a type of tree. Before that, she had to triumph through words like “querimonious,” “solidungulate,” and “Nepeta,” a word the teen had to reset on, and let out a joyous jump after her correct spelling.
Avant-garde will receive a $50,000 cash prize.
Her spelling bee win is just one in a long list of achievements for the champion. On Instagram, Avant-garde often shares videos to her Instagram of her playing basketball, impressing followers with her hoop skills.
In addition to Avant-garde’s spelling bee crown, she is also the Guinness World Records title holder for the most bounce juggles in one minute.
The National Spelling Bee competition began with 209 spellers, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, from five countries: the US, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan. Eleven contestants entered Thursday night’s final.
First lady Dr. Jill Biden was in attendance to cheer on the competitors at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic — for the first time since World War II.
The only Black winner before Avant-garde was Jody-Anne Maxwell, representing Jamaica in 1998.
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