Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana just made history as the first African American person to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She claimed her victory in round 18 after she correctly spelled “murraya,” a genius of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.
As the national champion, Avant-garde is walking away with a $50,000 cash prize, medal, Scripps Cup, the official trophy, and other sponsor prizes.
The 93rd competition took place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida on Thursday evening. Eleven students from seven states and the Bahamas competed during the final event.
“Zaila demonstrated incredible mastery of the English language with poise and perseverance,” said Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, in a statement. “The excellence of all of our competitors, their hard work and commitment to learning, and their distinct stories, capture hearts and minds across the globe.”
Launched in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is the longest-running educational competition in the country, Symson noted. Every year, millions of students across the country come together to compete for the coveted spelling bee title.