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Finals of National Spelling Bee begin with 40 elite spellers

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/1/2017 By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press
Melodie Loya, 12, of Bainbridge, N.Y., spells her word out in her hand while competing in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © The Associated Press Melodie Loya, 12, of Bainbridge, N.Y., spells her word out in her hand while competing in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The best of the best at the Scripps National Spelling Bee have begun the unforgiving final day of the competition.

Naysa Modi, 11, of Monroe, La., left, and Ashrita Gandhari, 10, of North Andover, Mass., react as they and other finalists in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee watch an opening video featuring past bee participants in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © The Associated Press Naysa Modi, 11, of Monroe, La., left, and Ashrita Gandhari, 10, of North Andover, Mass., react as they and other finalists in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee watch an opening video featuring past bee participants in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Forty spellers sat on stage at the beginning of Thursday's final round. The field of 291 spellers was narrowed by a written test on Tuesday and spelling on stage on Wednesday. Among those who didn't make the cut because of the test was 6-year-old Edith Fuller, the youngest speller in the history of the bee.

As the prize awaits, the finalists in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee take their seats in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) © The Associated Press As the prize awaits, the finalists in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee take their seats in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Spellers are competing for a trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. After three consecutive years of ties, the bee is likely to identify a sole champion this year because it added a tiebreaker test.

Once there are about 10 spellers left, the competition will pause until the primetime finale.

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