14-year-old Zaila is the first African American to win the National Spelling Bee

The decisive word was Murraya, a genus of exotic tree. Congratulations from Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden. “I was a little lucky,” said the young woman from New Orleans

America at the feet of Zaila, 14, a student of a school on the outskirts of New Orleans, star for one night: she was the first African American to triumph in a hundred-year history of the hugely popular National Spelling Bee competition, a tournament in which participants have to guess all the single letters of often very complicated and unusual words, each year broadcast on the Espn channel and followed by millions of viewers.

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In a very tight competition followed by a record audience, after the 2020 edition skipped due to the pandemic, Zaila on the stage of the Walt Disney World Resort did not miss a single letter of the many words she had to spell, not at all intimidated by the public and the cameras , and eliminating all his opponents one by one. Giving away a triumph celebrated with pride on social media by the African American community, especially in a deep southern state like Louisiana with a sad slave and racist past. “Congratulations on making history and thank you for making us proud” was Vice President Kamala Harris’ tweet. Congratulations also from first lady Jill Biden, present at the event.

“Solidungo”
Before reaching the last level of the competition she had to spell “querimonious” (doubtful), “solidungulate” (solidungo) and other rather complex terms with different origins. But the word that delivered victory to Zaila was Murraya, an exotic tree genus found in Asia and Australia: after an initial hesitation, she did the perfect spelling of the term before her joy exploded under a shower of sequins. . “I was a little lucky,” she said modestly to the microphones after the race. But the hours spent studying the dictionary over the past couple of years have been what made the difference.

History of a surname
In addition to her temperament and great ambition, Zaila is already a basketball phenomenon in her school and she dreams of one day playing in the WNBA, the women’s professional league. But she, after having won 50 thousand dollars, she too dreams of entering Harvard and one day working at NASA.

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