Scripps National Spelling Bee 2021: Zaila Avant-garde becomes first African American winner

Reuters/New York
Filed on July 9, 2021

Avant-garde, a basketball prodigy, also holds three Guinness world records for ball dribbling

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday by correctly spelling Murraya, a genus of plants, becoming the first African American to win the 90-year-old competition, which was cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also an accomplished basketball player who holds several Guinness World Records for dribbling multiple basketballs at a time, Avant-garde, from New Orleans, is the first Black contestant to win since Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998.

Maxwell was also the first winner from outside the United States.

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