Speed Reads

thanks Bill!

Zaila Avant-garde knew her National Spelling Bee winning word thanks to Bill Murray

As with many of the best things in life, this week's historic Scripps National Spelling Bee win somehow involved Bill Murray. 

14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde on Thursday made history as the first African American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word "murraya," and she confirmed to CNN she knew how to spell it thanks to associating it with the actor.  

"I knew murraya because, as I'm sure I kind of implied, I'd always connected it with Bill Murray," she said.

Avant-garde threw in a reference to Murray before spelling the word at the competition, asking, "Does this word contain the English name Murray, which could be the name of a comedian?" She told NPR she'd "like to say thank you to Bill Murray," explaining she used to listen to the soundtrack to his film Lost in Translation, and "that's how that word was stuck in my head because it was spelled like Bill Murray's name."

In addition to being good at spelling, Avant-garde also happens to hold not one, but three Guinness world records for basketball, The New York Times notes, leading CNN's John Berman to ask her, "Is there anything that you're not good at?" Not really, Avant-garde confirmed, telling Berman, "Just about everything I do, I'm good at." At just 14, she's already eying an ambitious future, telling CNN she's got four career options in mind: coaching basketball, working for NASA, or going into neuroscience or gene editing.

"I'm going to go with option E," Berman predicted, "all of the above."