W-i-n-n-e-r. On Thursday, 14-year old Zalia Avant-garde became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The New Orleans native correctly spelled murraya, which is a type of tree, to win the 93rd installments of the iconic competition.
Avant-garde also correctly spelled words like querimonious, solidungulate and Nepeta en route to winning the event. For her efforts, Avant-garde will receive a $50,000 cash prize.
"It felt really good to win because I have been working on it for like two years. So to actually win the whole thing was like a dream come true," she told CNN. "I felt like in the moment I snapped out of a surreal dream."
The National Spelling Bee had a field of 209 contestants that ranged from ages nine to 15 years old and hailed from countries including the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan -- in addition to the United States. There were 11 contestants remaining during Thursday's final round.
While Avant-garde is an impressive speller, it's not the only accomplishment that she has to her name. She previously set the Guinness World Record for most bounce juggles in one minute and is a standout basketball player.
Zaila Avant-garde the FIRST African-American to win the Scripps National #SpellingBee. 👸🏾🏆— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) July 9, 2021
She’s also really good at basketball and holds a Guinness World Record‼️
Here are some of her 🏀 highlights from middle school. #blackgirlmagic pic.twitter.com/W8E6QtqGTo
Avant-garde has more than 14,000 people following her on Instagram, where she posts videos of herself playing basketball, along with documenting her National Spelling Bee journey.
The National Spelling Bee was canceled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It marked the first time since World War II that the event wasn't held.