Dear Gossips, 


When I first heard the word, like an idiot, my mind went to someone butchering “Mariah” Carey’s name. This is why Zaila Avant-garde is the Scripps National Spelling Bee champion and not me. Because her question, which was still related to a celebrity, was much closer to the goal:

“Does this word contain like the English word murray, which would be the name of a comedian?”  



The judges laughed too. In fact, they were delighted with her the whole time. They were delighted by her knowledge, by watching and hearing her spell everything, like more words than she even had to, and know everything, like comedians from previous generations, who are famous from shows and movies that many in her generation have never heard of. Which means that Zaila isn’t just about words – this is a 14-year-old girl who loves words and math and basketball (she holds three Guinness World Records in basketball!) and has only been spelling competitively for two years. Per the New York Times:

“Zaila, who just finished eighth grade in her hometown, Harvey, La., showed a prowess for spelling at 10, when her father, who had been watching finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN, asked her how to spell the winning word: marocain.

Zaila spelled it perfectly. Then he asked her to spell the winning words going back to 1999. She spelled nearly all of them correctly and was able to tell him the books where she had seen them.”


I don’t know about you but I’m not reading a lot of books, nor have I ever, really, that have the winning words from the Spelling Bee going back over 20 years. 

God I love the Spelling Bee. I love that spelling is their superpower. Spelling is clearly Zaila’s superpower, and in that moment when she won, her name bib spun around her shoulders like a cape: 


And what’s the biggest bonus? 

“It’s super exciting to win because now I get to get a nice trophy, which is the best part of any win.”

Once again, Zaila gives the correct answer. And becomes Duana’s favourite person in the world. Because this is a NAME! Zaila Avant-garde, a name for the ages, the Spelling Bee champion. Who will spell, and dribble, her way into her future: 

Yours in gossip,