Zalia Avant-Garde becomes the First African American to Win the Scripps National Spelling Bee


14-year-old Zalia Avant-Garde took first place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday for spelling the word “murraya.”

The 8th grader has become the first African American to win the competition in its nearly 100-year history. As the first place winner, Avant-Garde will receive a $50,000 cash prize, the “Scripps Cup,” a $2,500 cash prize and reference library from Merrimam-Webster, and $400 in reference materials from Encyclopedia Britannica.

Along with her historic spelling bee crown, the Louisiana native holds the Guinness World Record for the most bounce juggles in a minute.

The teen highlights her spelling bee journey and elite hooping skills on her growing Instagram page.

In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Avant-garde expressed how she wants her win to motivate others.
“I want to inspire everybody especially African American girls,” Avant-garde tells PEOPLE.

In the future, the talented teen sees herself as a student athlete at Harvard. She believes that would open opportunities for her to transition into being an NBA coach.

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee aired live from Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 8 p.m. ET.