Bill Murray Delivered A Heck Of A Challenge To Spelling Bee/Basketball Champ Zaila Avant-garde

When Bill Murray requests that you dribble three basketballs while somehow balancing atop a foam roller and also spelling “portmanteau,” then you don’t say, “Nope.” The results of that request turned out well for Zalia Avant-garde.

After 14-year-old basketball champ (who’s from Louisiana) won the National Spelling Bee, she did the interview rounds as is customary. While speaking with NPR, she explained how she knew the spelling of “murraya,” which is a tropical-tree genus. In doing so, Zaila declared, “I’d like to send a thank you to Bill Murray because the reason I knew that word, murraya, was because of the movie Lost In Translation…. that’s how that word stuck in my head because it’s spelled like Bill Murray’s name.”

Well, Zaila got a (virtual) visit and congratulations from The Man himself during a non-virtual visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live! Murray’s currently doing the Cannes thing (and spectacularly so while wearing two watches in a meme-d photo), but he made the aforementioned request, and Zalia handled it like the champ that she is. “That a girl!” Murray declared in response.

Balancing on a foam roller while doing anything else is difficult, let alone while getting intellectual and sporty at the same time. Well, Murray made sure to toss in his on self-deprecating remark, too: “Coincidentally, I spelled your name right the other day.” Most of us will never be able to claim that same honor, so Zaila is truly achieving it all.