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Ten of the best spellers in the nation on Thursday moved one step closer to a big W-I-N in the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The ten finalists will compete Thursday night for more than $37,000 in cash and prizes. Dev Jaiswal, a 13-year-old from Louisville, Mississippi, had the No. 1 score coming out of the semifinals on Thursday afternoon.
Several of the finalists are spelling bee veterans: 13-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, is competing for the fifth time; 14-year-old Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, came in third last year; and 12-year-old Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Virginia, was a finalist last year, too.
Vanya's sister, Kavya, won the bee in 2009. If Vanya wins, they will be the first siblings to win the championship.
Before the competition, Vanya told NBC affiliate KSHB in Kansas, "I've studied a lot of words. The longest word in the dictionary is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. That would have to be one of my favorites."
The word — which Vanya proceeded to spell correctly — refers to a lung disease caused by silica dust.
Nearly 300 contestants entered this year's Spelling Bee. Among them was a cast member of the Broadway musical "Annie," and a champion snowboarder, The Associated Press reported.
The finals air Thursday night on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.