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NEW ORLEANS— A 14-year old star speller from Harvey is now the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion. WGNO’s Kenny Lopez takes a look at what makes this winner so special!

14-year old Zaila Avant-garde is V-I-C-T-O-R-I-O-U-S in the Scripps Spelling Bee. Her winning word was “murraya,” which is a group of tropical plants in the citrus family.

Zaila is from New Orleans and is an 8th grader at Clover Lane Homeschool. She’s been mastering her spelling for two years, and we talked to her last summer about spelling.

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“I know most of the words in the dictionary,” she said.

Zaila is the first from Louisiana to win the Scripps Spelling Bee and the first African-American to win. Mayor LaToya Cantrell even gave her props on Twitter saying, “black girl magic.”

Zaila told “Good Morning America, “You don’t really see too many African-Americans doing too well on spelling bees because it is like a really good thing and a gate opener to being interested in education.”

Although she’s a whiz at spelling, basketball is her main love. One day she wants to play in the WNBA, and she holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling basketballs simultaneously.

In the game of life, Zaila’s definitely W-I-N-N-I-N-G! A win she’s celebrating at Disney World. Even at Disney, spelling is still on her mind.

“I became good at spelling by mostly studying using a program called spell pundit,” she said. The studying has definitely paid off!

Our local star speller will be on ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ on Friday night.