Bailly grew up in the Denver, Colorado area. He began participating in spelling bees in sixth grade, training with a nun at his Catholic school. He reached the National Spelling Bee as an eighth grader and won with the word elucubrate.
Bailly studied Ancient Greek and Latin, receiving his bachelor's degree from Brown University and his PhD from Cornell University. He learned German in Switzerland with the help of a Fulbright scholarship. In 1990, he wrote a letter to the National Spelling Bee organizers offering his services and was hired as an associate pronouncer. Bailly became the Bee's chief pronouncer after Alex Cameron's death in 2003.
Bailly is married to Leslyn Hall. They have two children, Isidora (b. 2001) and Jean-Pierre (b. 2003).
- "Jacques Bailly 1966 - Public Background Checks". publicbackgroundchecks.com. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- James Maguire. American Bee: the National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds. Rodale, 2006. 121-124.
- "Denver boy wins spelling bee". The Ledger. May 30, 1980. 5.
- M.J. Stephey. "Q&A: Spelling Bee Pronouncer Jacques Bailly". Time. May 26, 2009. Retrieved on August 4, 2009.
- Department of Classics. University of Vermont. Retrieved on June 5, 2010.
- JABcv2014. JABcv2014. Retrieved on May 31, 2017.
- The Believer - Interview with Jacques Bailly June/July 2006
- The Man Who Pronounced It All
- Jacques Bailly on IMDb
- The Kids Are A-L-R-I-G-H-T
Katie Kerwin McCrimmon
| Scripps National Spelling Bee winner