Louisiana teen the first African-American winner of US spelling bee

·1-min read
Zaila Avant-garde, the first African-American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

A teenager from Louisiana has become the first African-American winner of the national spelling contest, correctly spelling the word "murraya" -- a kind of tropical tree -- for the victory.

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, a town near New Orleans, was crowned the champion of the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday evening.

Avant-garde, who earned a cash prize of $50,000 for winning the annual competition, said she hoped her victory would inspire other young African-Americans.

"I'm hoping that in a few years I'll see a whole lot more African American females and males too doing well in the Scripps Spelling Bee because it's kind of sad how there's like a great lack of those people," she said on ABC's Good Morning America.

Avant-garde said she had been spelling competitively for two years.

A talented basketball player, Avant-garde also holds Guinness world records for dribbling, juggling and bouncing basketballs.

She hopes to eventually play in the women's professional basketball league, the WNBA.

Among those congratulating Avant-garde on her victory was Barack Obama, the first Black American president.

"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," Obama tweeted.

Last year's spelling bee final was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time the competition was not held since World War II.


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