John Legend won a spelling bee when he was 10, but the outfit he wore that day was the real MVP

When Justin Timberlake penned the song “Suit & Tie,” it’s possible he was talking about 10-year-old John Legend. In 1989, Legend became a spelling bee champion — but it was his classic look that stole the show. John and his siblings were all homeschooled by their mother, Phyllis, who took great care to make sure that her kids were just as, if not more, brilliant than the children in traditional schools.

When the then 4th grader entered a spelling competition, he was all business — not even cracking a smile until the very end. The only 10 year old dressed sharply in a suit and tie, Legend — born John Stephens — claimed the winning title after correctly spelling the word “prejudice.”

Can you just imagine a 10-year-old John Legend dressed in a suit and tie? SO adorable.

The Springfield News-Sun, which originally reported the story nearly 30 years ago, posted this image of John and his mother Phyllis; it was the same image used for the 1989 story that proclaimed, “Product of home teaching wins bee.”

Now, hold the image of young John in your mind and see if you can picture him wearing one of adult John’s many slick suits.

Not too bad, huh? It’s also worth noting that John regularly boasts about his spelling bee win. We noticed this exchange on Twitter:

And the Oscar, Tony, and Grammy winner is keeping is skills sharp!

We’re definitely impressed by how focused, stylish, and poised 4th grade John was. And it’s good to know that if the singing thing goes south, he has something to fall back on.

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