Zaila Avant-garde becomes first African American contestant to win US spelling bee

Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana, just won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling murraya — a type of tree — to clinch the championship.

To get there, the teen had to navigate her way through words like “querimonious,” “solidungulate,” and “Nepeta,” a word the teen had to reset on, and let out a joyous jump after her correct spelling.

National Spelling Bee canceled for the first time since WWII

Avant-garde has become the first African-American contestant to win the bee in 93 editions of the competition — and will receive a $50,000 cash prize.

The competition began with 209 spellers, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, from five countries: the US, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan.

Eleven contestants entered Thursday night’s final, with Avant-garde emerging as the nation’s top speller.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to cheer on the competitors at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic — for the first time since World War II.