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A small portion of one of Washington, D.C.’s proposed Amazon HQ2 sites, along the Anacostia River near the Washington Nationals Park and Audi Field, the new DC United stadium. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Mr. Bezos is going to Washington, with the eyes of the nation on him.

The Amazon CEO arrives in Washington, D.C., this week for a series of talks and appointments. The trip is setting off a new wave of speculation that the nation’s capital is likely to land Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters. With the announcement of the winning city expected this year, close followers of the contest are interpreting as auspicious clues what might otherwise be ordinary dealings in D.C.

Bezos is scheduled to speak at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Thursday evening. Amazon board members are reportedly coming along for the trip, four sources told The Washington Post. The following week, Bezos will speak at the Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, an appearance tied to his rocket company, Blue Origin. Bezos also plans to pay a visit to The Washington Post, which he owns.

Amazon declined to comment for this story but said Bezos does not plan to make any HQ2 announcements during his D.C. trip.

Related: Is Washington, D.C., worthy of Amazon HQ2? We tested the nation’s capital to find out

Adding fuel to the speculation fire, Amazon joined the Washington, D.C., Chamber of Commerce earlier this week. The bulk of Amazon’s lobbying team is based in D.C. and the company is already a member of several business and trade organizations in the region.

Under typical circumstances, Bezos’ D.C. tour and Amazon’s growing presence in the region might look like business as usual. But in the year since Amazon announced its intent to build a second headquarters in another North American city with room for up to 50,000 employees, the company’s every move has been closely scrutinized in an effort to divine which city will win the extraordinary contest.

There are 20 cities still in the running, three of which are in the Washington, D.C., region. Amazon is already hiring more new employees in the D.C. metro area than any city other than its hometown, Seattle.

Amazon sent officials to D.C. in late winter to collect more information about the region’s HQ2 prospects, as it did with other city finalists. Officials in the area say Amazon has not given an indication of when they will share more information but a decision is expected by the end of 2018.

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