Zaila Avant-garde's Winning Word at Scripps Spelling Bee 2021 Watched Over 1 Million Times

A video capturing 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde saying the letters of the winning word "Murraya" at the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee has gone viral on Twitter.

Footage of the crucial moment, shared by the official Twitter account of ESPN, the sports television channel on which the competition was broadcast on Thursday, had received at least 1.6 million views at the time of reporting.

The video sees Avant-garde nervously spell out "Murraya," cracking a smile and jumping and twirling in elation as a competition official says: "That is correct!" Crowds could be heard cheering and clapping as a burst of confetti was showered over Avant-garde on stage.

She is the first African American to win the 90-year-old competition and the first Black champion since 1998, when Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica took home the prize. The post had received over 66,000 likes and 20,000 retweets at the time of reporting.

13-year-old Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana is your 93rd Scripps National #SpellingBee champion ‼️

The first African-American winner of the competition 👏

— ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2021

Who is Zaila Avant-garde?

Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, Avant-garde is an "avid reader" who showed a "strong interest in words from a very early age," according to the Scripps National Spelling Bee website.

In addition to being a spelling champion, the 14-year-old loves learning new things and is a basketball player with three basketball dribbling Guinness World Records, according to the organization's website.

They include the "most basketball bounces in 30 seconds (four basketballs)" with 307 bounces, the "most bounce juggles in one minute (four basketballs)" with 255 bounces and the "most bounce juggles in one minute (three basketballs)" with 231 bounces achieved, according to a 2020 article on the Guinness World Records website.

The article says Avant-garde has practiced dribbling since she was five-years-old. She dreamed of gaining the title for the "most bounce juggles in one minute (three basketballs)" after receiving her first Guinness World Records book for her eighth birthday.

"I hope to one day make it all the way to the WNBA. Dribbling is just one part of my overall basketball skillset," Avant-garde once said, according to the Guinness World Records article.

Among her personal heroes is Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, as well as tennis players Serena Williams and Cori "Coco" Gauff, the article says. All three of her heroes are fellow Guinness World Record holders.

"I think the more the achievements and triumphs of women are promoted and publicized, the more likely it is that little girls around the world will see that they can do any and everything they put their minds to," Avant-garde reportedly said.

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner.
Zaila Avant-garde, the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner, seen during the first round of the competition on July 8. A video capturing her winning moment has gone viral on Twitter. Jim Watson/Pool/AFP via Getty Images