LITTLE CANADA, Minn. (WCCO) – A 13-year-old from Little Canada is heading to Washington, D.C. in May to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Now, Jacob Lahti has to learn 600,000 words in several languages.

Jennifer Lahti says her son has always had a knack for words.

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“He started reading at age four. He picked up a book and read it cover to cover and hasn’t really stopped since,” Lahti said.

Jacob doesn’t just read the words on a page. He dissects them – and better than almost anyone else around.

“Found out I kinda had a knack for it and that made it that much more fun,” Jacob said.

He got close to making the cut twice, but this year he won the regional bee and an invite to stand on the biggest stage possible for an alphabet whiz.

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“My heart was just pounding. It was insane,” he said. “I was just so surprised. I couldn’t even believe it, what was going on.”

With the big bee just two months away, he has more than a half million words to learn. But this week studying is going to be a bit harder. For his Roseville district, it’s spring break. The Lahtis will be staying home to focus on the trip that really matters.

But is Jacob envious of his sun-bound pals?

“Hey, good for them,” he said. “They’re on vacation, they can make it out there and enjoy their spring break in Hawaii or Florida, wherever it might be. I’m enjoying it right here on the couch with my list of words.”

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The spelling bee will be in late May. Around 280 children were selected, and the top 50 will be featured on national TV.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield