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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

The Sports Illustrated is published annually by American magazine Sports Illustrated and features women fashion models, celebrities and athletes wearing swimwear in various locales around the world. The highly coveted cover photograph has been considered as the arbiter of supermodel succession.[1] The issue carries advertising that, in 2005 amounted to US$35 million in value.[1] First published in 1964, it is credited with making the bikini, invented in 1946,[2] a legitimate piece of apparel.[3]

Since 1964, the issue has been published every February. Since 2019, the issue was made available in May.[4][5]

*Sports Illustrated*Swimsuit Issue**
EditorM. J. Day
First issueJanuary 20, 1964
CompanySports Illustrated*
(Meredith Corporation)*
CountryUnited States
Websitehttp://si.com/swimsuit/ [83]


The swimsuit issue was invented by Sports Illustrated editor Andre Laguerre to fill the winter months, a typically slow point in the sporting calendar.[1] He asked fashion reporter Jule Campbell to go on a shoot to fill space, including the cover, with a beautiful model. The first issue, released in 1964, entailed a cover featuring Babette March and a five-page layout. Campbell soon became a powerful figure in modeling and molded the issue into a media phenomenon by featuring "bigger and healthier" California women and printing the names of the models with their photos, beginning a new supermodel era.[1] In the 1950s, a few women appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but the 1964 issue is considered to be the beginning of the current format known as the Swimsuit Issue. The issue that got the most letters was the 1978 edition.[6] In 1997, Tyra Banks was the first black woman on the cover.[7] Since 1997, the swimsuit issue has been a stand-alone edition, separate from the regular weekly magazine.[8] Its best selling issue was the 25th Anniversary Issue with Kathy Ireland on the cover in 1989.[6]

Through the years, many models, such as Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson, Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Petra Nemcova, Valeria Mazza, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Marisa Miller, have been featured on the cover. Other models within its pages, but not on its cover, include Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Niki Taylor, Angie Everhart, and Naomi Campbell. The eight models featured on the cover of the 2006 issue were featured in a coffee-table book called Sports Illustrated: Exposure. Photographed by Raphael Mazzucco and produced by Diane Smith, the unprecedented "reunion shoot" featured 139 pages of previously-unpublished images. In 2006, the issue expanded publishing to handheld devices.[9] In 2007, the swimsuit issue first became available in China.[10]

Non-models in the magazine

Female athletes have appeared in swimsuit shoots. Steffi Graf appeared in 1997. In the 2003 issue, tennis player Serena Williams and figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva were featured inside the magazine. In 2016, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey became the first female athlete to appear on the cover. However, Anna Kournikova appeared in an inset on the 2004 cover, and had a photo spread within its pages.

In 2005, Olympic gold medalists Amanda Beard and Jennie Finch, along with Lauren Jackson and Venus Williams, were featured. Maria Sharapova appeared in an inset on the 2006 cover and had a spread inside. In spring 2006, Sports Illustrated chose music as the theme for the 2007 issue. Swimsuit editor Diane Smith[11] wanted Grammy-winner Beyoncé Knowles to pose.[12] In 2006, Beyoncé launched a swimsuit line under her House of Deréon clothing label. Beyoncé Knowles became the first singer, and first non-model non-athlete, to appear on the cover in 2007.

In 2008, NFL cheerleaders appeared for the first time. Teams include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans.[13]

Race car driver Danica Patrick appeared in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, she was featured in a four-page spread set in Singer Island, Florida.[14]

For the 2010 issue, four female Winter Olympians appeared in swimsuits: Clair Bidez, Lacy Schnoor, Hannah Teter, and Lindsey Vonn. They were joined by tennis player Ana Ivanovic. Criticism of Ivanovic's appearance in the magazine shortly surfaced, as the Serb was suffering a decline in form and confidence and subsequently dropped out of the WTA's Top 50 a month after appearing in the magazine. However, since November 2010, Ivanovic has re-entered the World's Top 20 and regained her old form and confidence.

Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke appeared in the 2013 issue after having gained notoriety for her warm-up dance routine, which went viral on YouTube.[15]

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki appeared in the 2015 issue. She is an active player, formerly world number one, and was photographed at Captiva Island in the Gulf of Mexico by Walter Iooss, Jr.[16]

Top ranked Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard appeared for the first time in the 2017 issue. She is an active player who has achieved a top five rank in tennis in 2014.[17]


To some people, the magazine is an acceptable exhibition of female sexuality not out of place on a coffee table.[1] The swimsuit edition is controversial both with moralists who subscribe for sports news content as well as with those who feel that the focus on fashion and swimsuit modeling is inappropriate for a sports magazine. Feminists have expressed that "the Swimsuit Issue promotes the harmful and dehumanizing concept that women are a product for male consumption".[18]

At times, subscriptions have been cancelled by subscribers. The 1978 edition, remembered for its fishnet bathing suit made famous by Cheryl Tiegs, resulted in 340 cancellations.[1] Sports Illustrated makes the controversy a form of entertainment with the issue two weeks after the swimsuit edition packed with complainants such as shocked parents and troubled librarians.[1] As of 2005, the number of cancellations has reportedly declined.[1] Nonetheless, to avoid controversy, Sports Illustrated has, since 2007, offered its subscribers the option of skipping the swimsuit edition for a one issue credit to extend their subscription by a week.[19]

In 2019, the issue has leaned towards diversity and inclusivity with models representing different body types.[20] It has also tackled ageism, body image and the Me Too movement.[21][22]

On the cover

  • 1964: Babette March

  • 1965: Sue Peterson

  • 1966: Sunny Bippus

  • 1967: Marilyn Tindall

  • 1968: Turia Mau

  • 1969: Jamee Becker

  • 1970: Cheryl Tiegs

  • 1971: Tannia Rubiano

  • 1972: Shelia Roscoe

  • 1973: Dayle Haddon

  • 1974: Ann Simonton

  • 1975: Cheryl Tiegs

  • 1976: Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander

  • 1977: Lena Kansbod

  • 1978: Maria João

  • 1979: Christie Brinkley

  • 1980: Christie Brinkley

  • 1981: Christie Brinkley

  • 1982: Carol Alt

  • 1983: Cheryl Tiegs

  • 1984: Paulina Porizkova

  • 1985: Paulina Porizkova

  • 1986: Elle Macpherson

  • 1987: Elle Macpherson

  • 1988: Elle Macpherson

  • 1989: Kathy Ireland

  • 1990: Judit Masco

  • 1991: Ashley Richardson (Montana)

  • 1992: Kathy Ireland

  • 1993: Vendela Kirsebom

  • 1994: Kathy Ireland, Elle Macpherson, and Rachel Hunter

  • 1995: Daniela Pestova

  • 1996: Valeria Mazza and Tyra Banks

  • 1997: Tyra Banks

  • 1998: Heidi Klum

  • 1999: Rebecca Romijn

  • 2000: Daniela Pestova

  • 2001: Elsa Benítez

  • 2002: Yamila Diaz

  • 2003: Petra Němcová

  • 2004: Veronica Varekova; inset Anna Kournikova

  • 2005: Carolyn Murphy; inset Jessica White, Marisa Miller, and Yamila Diaz

  • 2006: Veronica Varekova, Elle Macpherson, Rebecca Romijn, Rachel Hunter, Daniela Pestova, Elsa Benítez, Carolyn Murphy, and Yamila Diaz; inset Heidi Klum and Maria Sharapova

  • 2007: Beyoncé Knowles; inset Bar Refaeli

  • 2008: Marisa Miller; inset Heidi Klum

  • 2009: Bar Refaeli; inset Brooklyn Decker

  • 2010: Brooklyn Decker

  • 2011: Irina Shayk; inset Kate Upton

  • 2012: Kate Upton; inset Alex Morgan

  • 2013: Kate Upton; inset Hannah Davis

  • 2014: Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge, Chrissy Teigen; flip-side cover: Kate Upton

  • 2015: Hannah Davis

  • 2016: Ronda Rousey, Hailey Clauson, Ashley Graham (three individual covers)[23]

  • 2017: Kate Upton (three separate covers)[24]

  • 2018: Danielle Herrington[25]

  • 2019: Tyra Banks,[26] Camille Kostek,[27] Alex Morgan[28](three individual covers)

The 2008–2013 covergirls were announced on Late Show with David Letterman.[29][30] The 2014 and 2017 covergirls were announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[31] The 2015 cover model was announced on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[32]

The 2019 covers were exclusively announced on Good Morning America with Tyra Banks and Camille Kostek both appearing on the show on May 8, 2019.[33][34]

Cover history

Elle Macpherson has the most covers in the issue's history with five

Elle Macpherson has the most covers in the issue's history with five

Most covers by model[[CITE|6|https://openlibrary.org/search?q=*Sports%20Illustrated%2050%3A%20The%20Anniversary%20Book*%2C%20Rob]]
ModelNumber of coversIssues
Elle Macpherson51986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 2006
Christie Brinkley31979, 1980, 1981
Cheryl Tiegs31970, 1975, 1983
Kathy Ireland31989, 1992, 1994
Daniela Pestova31995, 2000, 2006
Kate Upton32012, 2013, 2017
Tyra Banks31996, 1997, 2019
Paulina Porizkova21984, 1985
Rachel Hunter21994, 2006
Rebecca Romijn21999, 2006
Elsa Benítez22001, 2006
Yamila Diaz-Rahi22002, 2006
Veronica Varekova22004, 2006
Carolyn Murphy22005, 2006


The swimsuit issue was once predominantly shot in one country per year. As the issue has grown in size, the number of locations has also risen.

  • 1964: Cozumel

  • 1965: Baja California

  • 1966: Bahamas

  • 1967: Arizona

  • 1968: French Polynesia

  • 1969: Puerto Rico

  • 1970: Hawaii

  • 1971: Dominican Republic

  • 1972: Marina del Rey

  • 1973: Bahamas

  • 1974: Puerto Rico

  • 1975: Cancún

  • 1976: Baja California

  • 1977: Maui

  • 1978: Brazil

  • 1979: Seychelles

  • 1980: British Virgin Islands

  • 1981: Florida

  • 1982: Kenya

  • 1983: Jamaica

  • 1984: Netherlands Antilles

  • 1985: Australia

  • 1986: French Polynesia

  • 1987: Dominican Republic

  • 1988: Thailand

  • 1989: Mexico, Seychelles, Kenya, Lake Powell, Kauai, St. Barts

  • 1990: The Grenadines, Windward Islands

  • 1991: Cruise theme – Turks & Caicos, Bali, St. Barts

  • 1992: Spain

  • 1993: Alaska, Florida Keys, Mackinac Island, Martha's Vineyard, Oahu

  • 1994: Pool theme – Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Bali, Pantelleria, Sardinia, St. Maarten, Mexico, Hong Kong

  • 1995: Bermuda, Costa Rica

  • 1996: South Africa

  • 1997: Bahamas, Monaco, Venezuela, Mexico, Malibu

  • 1998: Equator theme – Maldives, Kenya, Indonesia, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

  • 1999: Necker Island, Guana Island

  • 2000: Pacific theme – Malaysia, Oahu, Maui, Mexico

  • 2001: Tunisia, Greece, Italy, Bahamas, Las Vegas

  • 2002: Latin theme – Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Spanish Harlem

  • 2003: Barbados, Kenya, Turkey, Florida Keys, Colorado, Vietnam, Grenada

  • 2004: Montauk, New York, Saranac Lake, New York, Mississippi, Wyoming, Arizona, Bouton, Iowa, Perry, Iowa

  • 2005: Exuma, Bahamas, Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras, Korčula, Croatia, Laguna Beach, California, Bora Bora, Portillo, Chile, Hua Hin, Thailand, Papgayo Peninsula, Costa Rica, Placencia, Belize, Fajardo, Puerto Rico[35]

  • 2006: Hollywood, Huahine, Las Vegas, Cartagena, Colombia, Cat Island and Harbour Island, Bahamas, Palm Springs[36]

  • 2007: Music theme – Memphis, Tennessee, Negril, Jamaica, Bahia, Brazil, Maui and Lahaina, Hawaii, Grambling and Shreveport, Louisiana, Los Angeles, Tucson, Arizona, Cleveland, Ohio[37]

  • 2008: St. Petersburg, Russia, Discovery Cove, Orlando and Singer Island, Florida, Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Kaanapali, Hawaii, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos, Caesarea, Israel and the Dead Sea, Israel[38][39]

  • 2009: Riviera Maya, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, Teneriffa, Canary Islands, St. George's, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Naples, Italy, Cappadocia, Turkey[40]

  • 2010: Whistler, Canada, Atacama, Chile, Rajasthan, India, Veligandu, Maldives, Palm Springs, California, Lisbon, Portugal[41]

  • 2011: Peter Island, British Virgin Islands, Nanuya Levu, Fiji, Boracay Island, The Philippines, Sentosa, Singapore, Maui, Hawaii, Laguna Beach, California, Banff National Park, Canada[42]

  • 2012: Bondi Beach, New South Wales and North Narrabeen, Australia, Apalachicola, Florida, Gulf Coast of the United States, Bocas del Toro Province and San Blas Islands, Panama, Desroches Island, Seychelles, Victoria Falls, Zambia[43]

  • 2013: Antarctica, Hayman Island, Australia, Guilin, China, Exuma, Bahamas, Easter Island, Chile, Etosha National Park and Swakopmund, Namibia, Seville, Spain[44]

  • 2014: Aitutaki, Cook Islands, Cape Canaveral, Florida, Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Maranhão, Brazil, Zermatt and Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Nosy Be, Madagascar, Congress Hall, Cape May, New Jersey, St. Lucia, Fiji, Guana Island, British Virgin Islands[45]

  • 2015: American issue: West Coast California, Oregon, Washington; Blackberry Farm, Tennessee; Route 66 (Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona); Parks - Monument Valley - Utah, Bryce Canyon - Utah, Yellowstone - Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Kauai, Hawaii; Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands; Captiva, Florida

  • 2016: Bora Bora; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Malta; Tahiti; Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic; Petit Saint Vincent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Exuma, Bahamas[46]

  • 2017: Fiji; Sumba, Indonesia; Tulum; Turks and Caicos; Saariselkä, Finland[47]

  • 2018: Tierra del Sol Resort & Golf, Aruba; Haute Harbour Island, Bahamas; Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club, Belize; Hermitage Plantation Inn, Nevis[48]

  • 2019: Costa Rica, Great Exuma, Kangaroo Island, Kenya, Paradise Island, Puerto Vallarta, St. Lucia

In other media

Camille Kostek won the first ever Sports Illustrated Swim Search in 2018, eventually landing a solo cover the following year

Camille Kostek won the first ever Sports Illustrated Swim Search in 2018, eventually landing a solo cover the following year[52]

  • Beginning in the late 1980s, Sports Illustrated allowed television specials to be aired which were later released as video versions of its Swimsuit Issue. The first releases were available on VHS or Laser Disc (LD), and later releases have been available on DVD.[49]

  • In 1989, The Making of the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue was a television documentary by HBO which later became available on VHS by Maysles Films.[50]

  • In 1992, a behind-the-scenes made-for-HBO special documentary was released on VHS as the Sports Illustrated Behind the Scenes: Official Swimsuit Video.[51]

  • In 1993, Sports Illustrated: The 1993 Swimsuit Video was released by HBO films.[53]

  • The Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue Video was released on video by Dakota North Entertainment.[54] Since then, the annual video version of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been called the Swimsuit Video.

  • In 1995, Sports Illustrated began distributing television specials based on the issue, titled Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Special. The hour-long specials have aired on Spike TV and TNT and Minisodes of several specials from 2002 to 2004 are available on Crackle.[55]

  • In 2004, the Sports Illustrated 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Special: American Beauty featured videos of the swimsuit beauties at various US locations, some of which are not usually thought of as beaches: e.g., the host Melissa Keller and Marisa Miller at the grain elevator in Bouton, Iowa, and on a farm near Perry, Iowa. The more recent videos have included some "uncensored" scenes.[56]

  • For January 2005, NBC produced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search, a reality TV show documenting twelve previously unknown fashion models as they competed against one another over five weeks for the grand prize: a pictorial in the 2005 edition of the Swimsuit Issue and a modeling contract with NEXT Model Management worth one million US dollars. Alicia Hall won the competition.[57]

  • Prior to the release of the 2011 issue, DirectTV aired a preview special on the 101 Network, revealing the models in that year's edition. The show was hosted by Dan Patrick and Mallory Snyder.

  • In 2017, the issue hosted its first ever open casting call where aspirants were asked to submit a 60-second video on Instagram.[58] The three-part series Sports Illustrated Swim Search which documented the first ever open casting call with Camille Kostek as a winner (becoming a cover model in 2019) was made available on SI TV and Prime Video.[59] The following year, the model search held an in-person open casting call in Miami, and has been held annually since.[60][61]

  • In 2019, the magazine held a two-day exhibition in Miami which gave "fans the chance to experience the world of SI Swim like never before through an array of one-of-a-kind installations, photo experiences," panels and talks among others.[62]

See also

  • List of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover models

  • List of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue models


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