Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from Louisiana, became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday when she correctly spelled Murraya, a genus of plants.
The teen from Harvey jumped and spun with joy as confetti fluttered to the stage at the climactic end to the ESPN2 telecast. She will take home more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.
The spelling crown is just the latest achievement for the impressive teen, an accomplished hoopster also who holds several Guinness World Records for dribbling multiple basketballs at a time.
Zaila is the first black contestant to win in 93 editions of the contest — which was canceled last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic — since 1998, when Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica became the first winner from outside the US.
Zaila Avant-garde, the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee correctly spelled ‘Murraya’ as her final word.REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Her win also breaks a streak