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Youngest Pun Champion Launches Singing Career, Proving Nerds Can Be Cool, Too!

J. Maya smiling as she points to the sign behind her that reads "O. Henry Pun-Off registration."

Move over, dads! There’s a new pun champion in the world, and she’s got a lot to say.

In 2016, J. Maya became the youngest international pun championships winner at the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships in Austin, Texas. She beat out competitors twice her age, securing her spot as one of the punniest people in the entire world!

“I wanted to prove that young, nerdy girls are good at puns, too!” J. Maya said. “It’s not just dads, guys!”

J. Maya was in “absolute shock” when she won the Most Valuable Punner Award, securing her spot in history. During the competition, she and the other contestants were given just five seconds to come up with a pun based on a “weird or niche” topic.

She prepared to crack those dad jokes ahead of time by reading the dictionary, studying synonym lists, and doing crossword puzzles to expand her vocabulary.

“It probably would make for the least-exciting training montage of all time, but that’s what it is,” she joked.

After winning the championships, J. Maya decided to parlay her wordsmith skills into a career in music. Now, she writes songs that use wordplay to express her thoughts and feelings, hoping to appeal to the fellow “nerds” of the world.

One of her most popular tunes is about a boy she used to like, but it uses a crossword theme to rearrange letters into different words.

“Generally, my vision for the music that I make is to make fellow nerds feel at home and to feel like it’s cool to be into these really nerdy things,” she explained.

In addition to expanding representation and acceptance for smart people, J. Maya is also passionate about being a role model for other Indian-Americans.

“You can be anything you want,” she tells those younger than herself. “You can be a nerd and you can be cool. Those things are not mutually exclusive.”

In another original song, J. Maya educates the world about famous women in herstory.

What a talented human! J. Maya is reminding the world that nerds are awesome, funny people whose voices deserve to be heard. We’re here for it!

Share J. Maya’s story so others can experience her extraordinary talent.

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