Saints fan Anthony Mackie salutes spelling bee champ Zaila Avant-garde, invokes Drew Brees

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It’s a good week to be a Saints fan. Between Zaila Avant-garde’s historic victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and Dustin Poirier’s win over Conor McGregor at UFC 264, Louisianans are on the rise. New Orleans’ own Anthony Mackie, a leading actor for Marvel Studios’ “Avengers” projects, was hosting the 2021 ESPY’s Awards with Avant-garde in attendance while Poirier was pummeling McGregor on Saturday night.

And Mackie didn’t let the moment pass by unnoticed. He congratulated Avant-garde on her success while also recognizing her skills as a basketball prodigy and owner of multiple world records,

“I’m most excited tonight because one of my favorite athletes from New Orleans is in the house. Sorry Drew Brees, you’re old news, alright” Mackie joked. “You don’t count no more. I’m talking about the spelling bee champ.”

But he didn’t let the opportunity for some ribbing to pass by, either. From one New Orleanian to another, he quipped: “That’s NOLA’s finest right there, but I’ma let you pass for being from across that river though, we don’t got to talk about that.” For those not in the know, that’s a friendly jab in the West Bank-East Bank rivalry, referring to the opposing sides of the Mississippi River — with Mackie doing his part to represent his Mid-City roots in the East.

Still, it’s great to see them all thriving in a big spot. Avant-garde, 14, has already lived up to an all-time-great name with her accomplishments but has a bright future with all of the college scholarship offers pouring in. Mackie is lined up to star in many more feature films. And Poirier wasn’t satisfied with a win by doctor’s stoppage against McGregor; he’s already eager to meet his rival again in the octagon. The Saints themselves might be keeping quiet ahead of training camp, but the people who make their fanbase great are as busy as ever.

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