Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde’s popularity continues growing after historic win

The popularity of 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde continues to grow.

Since becoming the contest’s first African-American winner last week, the owner of three Guinness World Records has enjoyed appearances at the ESPYs, on Jimmy Kimmel Live and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. The 14-year old prodigy illustrated her record-breaking dribbling skills on the latter two programs.

“I still can’t quite believe I’ve won the Scripps National Spelling Bee, so I’m still waiting for that to settle in on me,” Avant-garde explained at the ESPYs last Saturday. “So, I guess my weekend is going to get even more exciting when I realize.”

On Tuesday, the excitement certainly picked up for Avant-garde, who visited the New York Times’ newsroom that afternoon.

That same day, Avant-garde was invited to meet Kelly Ripa and Ryan Secreast to share her talents, including simultaneously dribbling three basketballs.

Prior to securing her aforementioned victory with the correct spelling of “Murraya,” Avant-garde asked judges, “Does this word contain, like, the English name “Murray,” which could be the name of a comedian or just an English name in general?” The following evening, on Wednesday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the multitalented speller met that famous actor when Bill Murray made an appearance via Zoom.

In addition to connecting her with the comedian, guest host Phoebe Robinson challenged Avante-garde to a dribbling competition while spelling out several challenging words. Afterward, the latter was awarded a full scholarship to Sports Academy to pursue her athletic endeavors. The basketball training center was initially named after late founder and Naismith Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

Though Avant-garde anticipated an exciting weekend, it’s quite clear her star is only beginning to truly shine.