Zaila Avant-garde has made history as is the first African American 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.
The 14-year-old from New Orleans native won spelling words such as “querimonious,” “ancistroid,” “solidungulate.”
Zaila sealed the deal by correctly spelling “Murraya,” a genus of flowering citrus plants in Asia, commonly known as orange jasmine.
“After four weeks and one two-hour Finals event, we have our 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏 𝐒𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐬 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐁𝐞𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧!,” Scripps National Spelling Bee wrote on it’s official Instagram Page. “She won the 93rd Bee by spelling the word “Murraya.” All the way from Harvey, Louisiana, she is our first Champion from the Pelican State. Help us in congratulating #Speller133 Zaila Avant-garde on her new title! 🎉”
According to the Associated Press, Zaila was focused on basketball up until two years ago, although basketball remains her first love and career goal.
“Basketball, I’m not just playing it. I’m really trying to go somewhere with it. Basketball is what I do,” Zaila said. “Spelling is really a side thing I do. It’s like a little hors d’ouevre. But basketball’s like the main dish.”
Zaila already has her future mapped out.
She says she hopes to attend Harvard, play in the WNBA and possibly coach one day in the NBA if she doesn’t go to work for NASA.
Zaila currently holds world records for the most balls juggled in one minute with four basketballs, most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs and the record for the most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously.