WATCH: Zaila Avant-garde Becomes First African-American To Win Scripps National Spelling Bee

Joe Skipper/Reuters

Zaila Avant-garde won the Scripps National Spelling Bee late Thursday by successfully spelling out the word “murraya,” becoming the competition’s first African-American champion. Her winning word refers to “a genus of Asiatic and Australian tropical trees having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals,” according to competition officials. Chaitra Thummala and Bhavana Madini took second and third place. Avant-garde, 14 years old and a basketball player, hails from New Orleans and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for most basketballs dribbled simultaneously, six for a total of 30 seconds. The competition was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and was held this year in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The first Black winner of the bee was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica, who won the contest in 1998.

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast – Blake Montgomery