Fourteen-year-old Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde had the judges and announcers laughing before she aced her final word: Murraya.
According to Merriam-Webster, Murraya is a “a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees (family Rutaceae) having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals.”
Zaila sweetly asked the judges a question referencing comedian Bill Murray when dissecting the word’s origin and spelling.
“Does this word contain like the English word Murray, which can be the name of a comedian, or just the English name in general.”
“I don’t see that here,” Zaila was told.
An announcer chimed in, “Bill Murray made the spelling bee!”
“It tells you she’s on the right track, though,” another announcer said, before the teenager indeed nailed the final spelling.
Zaila twirled around and jumped up and down with joy after she was told her spelling was correct.
The audience was unfortunately very limited, apparently for COVID-19 precautions, but the teen still sparked applause and cheers from those in the crowd.