Jill Biden opens up about her own spelling bee failure and offers advice to kids: ‘Take risks’

The Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals were held Wednesday, and during the broadcast, host LaVar Burton sat down with first lady Jill Biden. Biden opened up about her own experience with the spelling bee in 6th grade.

“We had a spelling bee in my class and I won that spelling bee,” Biden said. “I was supposed to go to the next level but I was so afraid of speaking out in public, that the next day, I told my mother I was sick and I didn’t go to school and I never went to the spelling bee.”

Biden went on to do a lot of public speaking, both as and an English teacher and a first lady. She has been an outspoken proponent for education, particularly in the inclusion of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But she wasn’t always that way.

“Just getting on the stage just scared me to death,” Biden said. “And we have to learn to take risks, I think.”

Biden doubled down on her own advice, when asked if she would’ve done things differently back in her spelling bee days. She said, “You know, I would say to her, ‘You know what? Take some risks, Jill. Have a little confidence in yourself and you'll be surprised because you can do it.”

Scripps National Spelling Bee finals air Thursday at 8 p.m on ION.

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