Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel

Zaila Avant-garde spells her way to v-i-c-t-o-r-y at Scripps National Spelling Bee

1 min read

Avant-garde wished to one day win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She did just that.

Spelling her way to victory, 14-year old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African American to win Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.

Having not known the word winning word well enough, Zaila asked the judges if the word contained “the English name Murray, which could be the name of a comedian” — gaining a light-hearted chuckled from the judges and “I don’t see that here,” by one one of the judges — before asking for the name’s origin.

Getting the information needed, she was declared champion of the Spelling Bee after spelling ‘Murraya’ correctly in the finals. Zaila rejoiced in her accomplishment with an ear-to-ear. Jumping with a twirl before being startled for a moment by confetti that was shot onto the stage then claimed the $50,000 top prize.

Not only is Zaila a spelling champion, but she holds three Guinness World Records:

  • The first one was on Nov. 2, 2020, for the most bounce juggles in one minute.
  • The second earned record was on Jan. 26, 2021, for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously by one person.
  • The third record she holds was on Nov. 14, 2021, for the most basketball bounces in 30 seconds (four basketballs).

After claiming a historic victory, Zaila sent her thanks to Bill Murray for helping in spelling the winning word because of the movie “Lost in Translation” because his name is spelled the same without the extra “a.”

“It makes me feel really proud. I’m really hoping lots of little brown girls all over the world are, like, really motivated to try out spelling and stuff because it’s really a fun thing to do,” Spelling Bee champion said about how the win made her feel. “It’s a great way to kind of connect yourself with education, which is super important.” 

Zaila Avant-garde made history by becoming the second Black winner of the National Spelling Bee since Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998.

Hopefully, decades don’t pass before another takes this winning title as spelling champion.

Logan Kent

Logan is an ambitious, yet head-strong, "underdog." He strives to support the overlooked and bring attention to both big and small happenings in the world through journalism.

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