Jill Biden reveals she was too ‘afraid of public speaking’ to appear in spelling bee despite qualifying

Jill Biden appeared on Scripps National Spelling Bee, Wednesday, where the first lady shared with LeVar Burton a cautionary tale about her own spelling bee aspirations.

“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.”

While Biden is now a teacher and outspoken supporter of education, when she was younger the idea of being outspoken about anything was intimidating.

“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.”

Video Transcript

LEVAR BURTON: You entered the spelling bee. Tell us that story.

JILL BIDEN: Well, we had a spelling bee in my class. And I won that spelling bee.

KYLIE MAR: Dr. Jill Biden appeared on "Scripps National Spelling Bee" Wednesday, where the first lady shared with LeVar Burton a cautionary tale about her own spelling bee aspirations.

JILL BIDEN: I was supposed to go to the next level.

LEVAR BURTON: Right.

JILL BIDEN: 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.

LEVAR BURTON: Wow.

KYLIE MAR: While Dr. Biden is now a teacher and outspoken supporter of education, when she was younger the idea of being outspoken about anything was intimidating.

JILL BIDEN: Just getting on the stage just scared me to death.

LEVAR BURTON: Right. Sometimes we just have to wait until we step more fully into who we are before we take on experiences that are really intimidating.

JILL BIDEN: And we have to learn to take risks, I think.

KYLIE MAR: And Dr. Biden doubled down on her own advice when asked if she would have done anything differently back in her spelling bee days.

LEVAR BURTON: If you could talk to that sixth grader, Jill-- Dr. Biden-- what would you tell her?

JILL BIDEN: 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.

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