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Last Updated: Friday May 29 2009 10:31 GMT

Kavya is spelling contest champ

Kavya takes the trophy

Girl takes spelling champ title

A 13-year-old girl in America has beaten off 293 competitors to win a massive $40,000 - £25,000 - in a spelling competition.

Kavya took the prize by correctly spelling Laodicean - an unusual word meaning lukewarm or indifferent to religion or politics.

She worked out how to spell every word in the contest by writing each out on the palm of her hand.

"I can't believe it happened," Kavya said. "It feels so unreal."

Kavya, from Kansas, beat 11 finalists in the national competition. She hopes to be a brain surgeon when she's older.

It's the fourth time she's taken part in the annual spelling contest - called a spelling bee - and has finished 10th, eighth and fourth over the last three years.

Second place went to 12-year-old Tim who misspelled Maecenas, which means a cultural benefactor.