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ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Season 19

Randy Holmes

Congratulations are in order for Zaila Avant-garde who was recently honored for her historic National Spelling Bee win earlier this month. The 14-year-old Louisiana native became the first African American to received the Scripps National Spelling Award along with a whopping cash prize of $50,000.

Avant-garde broke barriers the moment she was tasked to spell the word “Murraya” at the competition– which she did effortlessly. Murraya is a species of flowers found mostly throughout Australia and Asia.


Now the young star is receiving some major love from her hometown of Harvey, Lousianna who celebrated Zaila’s big feat with a colorful parade on July 18. Motorcycles, horses, and performers from the Zulu Tramps danced alongside the champ as they walked during the celebration. Her mother Alma Heard was in attendance along with a slue of family and fans who later gathered at the Woodmere Cafe to continue the festivities.

Since her major National Spelling Bee feat, life has certainly changed for the Guinness World record breaker who holds three awards for dribbling multiple basketballs simultaneously. In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered,  Avant-garde told Michel Martin how she’s adjusting to her new life that’s now filled with much attention from superstars like LeBron James and Sha’Carri Richarson who she says she was excited to meet at the ESPYS.

“I really like going on trips and stuff and like being in the airplanes, ” she added. “The airplanes some of the times have TVs in them.”

Zaila when on to reveal how her love for reading sparked her passion and excitement for spelling.

“Since I was a young child, reading and words has always been something that I loved. Reading books. I’ve read like over a thousand books. So that’s definitely something I’ve done a lot of. And then my father saw the spelling bee and stuff and asked me some words from them and was surprised at the fact that I could spell some of them,” she later shared.


Black girl magic at its finest! Congrats Zaila!

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