Champions eat 102 hot dogs during famous July 4th eating contest

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Trophies for the men’s and women’s world champions displayed before the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in New York’s Coney Island. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

NEW YORK (AP) – Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ate 71 hot dogs to secure his 12th title at Nathan’s Famous annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest on Thursday, just a few hot dogs shy of breaking the record he set last year.

Joey Chestnut stuffs his mouth with hot dogs during the men’s competition of Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in New York’s Coney Island. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

In front of a crowd of fans and facing 17 opponents, the California native far exceeded his nearest competitors, but didn’t quite make or pass the 74-dog mark he reached in 2018.

When asked how he felt after the contest, Chestnut, 35, said “I feel like I should eat a couple more.”

Miki Sudo won the women’s competition by chomping down 31 hot dogs.

Miki Sudo consumes hot dogs during the women’s competition of Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in New York’s Coney Island. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs.

Like Chestnut, she expressed some disappointment in not eating more.

“It wasn’t my best number, the numbers were pretty low across the board. I don’t know if it was the heat, but I really can’t complain. I wasn’t feeling in my best shape so I’m just glad that it was enough to pull off a sixth belt,” she said.

The annual eat-off started in 1972, though the company has long promoted the event with a theatrical backstory that places its start date in 1916.

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