Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from the New Orleans area, won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, becoming the bee’s first African American champion in its 96-year history.

Avant-garde, an eighth-grader from Louisiana, spelled the word “murraya” (a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees) to take home the $50,000 top prize with a jubilant twirl onstage. She’s the first African-American to win the 96-year-old contest and the second-ever Black winner

Zaila Avant-garde wins the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming bee’s first African American champion. Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from the New Orleans area, won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, becoming the bee’s first African American champion in its 96-year history.

The teen said “it felt really good to be a winner” after she had been practicing for two years. Avant-garde, who tied for 370th place in the 2019 competition, credited the win to her tutors and “a bit of luck.” She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she hopes her historic win will inspire other young Black people in the United States to excel at spelling.

She is also a Guinness World Record holder for her basketball skills 🏀 🏆

Former President Barack Obama, in a tweet Friday morning, congratulated Avant-garde: “Three Guinness World Records and now the national spelling bee champ! Congrats, Zaila—your hard work is paying off. We’re all proud of you.”

 

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