The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee has been won by a Louisiana eighth-grader.
Zaila Avant-garde, 14, became the first Black American to win the famed spelling competition Thursday after correctly spelling “Murraya,” a type of tree, in the 18th and final round.
“It was the smile and twirls for us!” Scripps National Spelling Bee said on Twitter, referencing Zaila’s reaction to spelling her final word correctly. “After tying for 370th place in 2019, Speller 133 Zaila Avant-garde wins the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.”
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) July 9, 2021
Along with being the competition’s first Black American winner in its nearly 100-year history, she is also its first Louisiana champion. She is also the second Black contestant to win since Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica became the Bee’s first non-American winner in 1998.
Zaila has three Guinness World Records, including the most bounce juggles with four basketballs in one minute (255), the most basketballs dribbled concurrently (6), and the most basketball bounces with four basketballs in 30 seconds (307).
Her ambition is to play in the WNBA, she has stated.
Scripps announced a winner on Thursday for the first time since an eight-way tie in 2019 and the spelling bee was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus epidemic.