Zaila Avant-Garde Becomes the First African- American to Win The National Spelling Bee

Zaila Avant-Garde made history by becoming the first African-American winner of the US Scripps National Spelling Bee and the competition’s second Black winner since its inception.

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Avant-garde jumped in the air after triumphantly spelling the word “murraya” correctly, securing her historic win.

“I was pretty relaxed on the subject of Murraya and pretty much any other word I got,” Zaila said.


The National Spelling Bee competition began with 209 spellers, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, from five countries: the US, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, and Japan. And 11 contestants entered Thursday night’s final.

Avant-Garde isn’t done making history and setting trends. the eighth-grader has her sites set on someday being in the WNBA. She described spelling as a side hobby, even though she routinely practiced for seven hours a day.

“I kind of thought I would never be into spelling again, but I’m also happy that I’m going to make a clean break from it,” Avante-Garde said. “I can go out, like my Guinness world records, just leave it right there and walk off.”

Avant-Garde currently holds three Guinness world records for her basketball skills including a record for most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs.