<the> award to win

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"The" is unusually italic. I read it as "the (most important award)." Am I on the right track?

For many early-career scientists, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) graduate fellowship is the award to win. Officially called the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), it provides its 2000 or so annual awardees with 3 years of funding. It can give students a leg up when applying to graduate programs or trying to earn a spot in a coveted lab.

Source: Science By Jane C. Hu Aug. 26, 2019
NSF graduate fellowships disproportionately go to students at a few top schools
  • jwood

    English (USA)
    Exactly! Orally, there would be emphasis placed on "the"--it would sound more like "theee" in spoken AE.
    In written form, italics or underline would be used to provide the emphasis.
    It can be used in any context where you want to indicate something is the best, most important, most prestigious, etc.
    Another example: "The restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel is the place for business lunches."
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