Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
First SI Swimsuit Issue.jpg
Editor M. J. Day
Categories Magazine
Frequency Yearly
First issue January 20, 1964
Company Sports Illustrated
Country United States
Language English
Website SI Swimsuit

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is published annually by American Sports Illustrated magazine. The cover photograph features fashion models wearing swimwear in exotic locales. All models featured on the cover of the swimsuit issue in the magazine's history have been women. According to some, the magazine is the arbiter of supermodel succession.[1] The swimsuit issue of the magazine carries advertising that, in 2005 amounted to US$35 million in value.[1] New issues come out around the middle of February or later. First published in 1964, it is credited with making the bikini, invented in 1946,[2] a legitimate piece of apparel.[3] The issue that got the most letters was the 1978 issue.[4] The best selling issue was the 25th Anniversary Issue with Kathy Ireland on the cover in 1989.[4]

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by Raphael Mazzucco and produced by Diane Smith, the unprecedented "reunion shoot" featured 139 pages of previously-unpublished images.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.[5] In 2007, the swimsuit issue first became available in China.[6]


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. 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]

Non-models in the magazine[edit]

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[9] wanted Grammy-winner Beyoncé Knowles to pose.[10] In 2006, Beyoncé launched a swimsuit line under her House of Deréon clothing label. Beyoncé Knowles became the first singer, and first non-model, 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.[11]

Race car driver Danica Patrick appeared in 2008. She was featured in a four-page spread set in Singer Island, Florida.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]


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".[16]

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] Recently, the number of cancellations has 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.[17]

On the cover[edit]

The 2008–2013 covergirls were announced on Late Show with David Letterman.[21][22] The 2014 and 2017 covergirls were announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[23] The 2015 cover model was announced on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[24]

Cover history[edit]

Most covers by model[4]
Model Number of covers Issues
Elle Macpherson 5 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 2006
Christie Brinkley 3 1979, 1980, 1981
Cheryl Tiegs 3 1970, 1975, 1983
Kathy Ireland 3 1989, 1992, 1994
Daniela Pestova 3 1995, 2000, 2006
Kate Upton 3 2012, 2013, 2017
Paulina Porizkova 2 1984, 1985
Tyra Banks 2 1996, 1997
Rachel Hunter 2 1994, 2006
Rebecca Romijn 2 1999, 2006
Elsa Benítez 2 2001, 2006
Yamila Diaz-Rahi 2 2002, 2006
Veronica Varekova 2 2004, 2006
Carolyn Murphy 2 2005, 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.

Swimsuit Video, the Swimsuit Issue on video and in television specials[edit]

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.[38]

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.[39] 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.[40] In 1993, Sports Illustrated: The 1993 Swimsuit Video was released by HBO films.[41] The next year, Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue Video was released on video by Dakota North Entertainment.[42] 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 '[Year] 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.[43] 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.[44]

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.[45]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Curtis, Bryan (February 16, 2005). "The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: An intellectual history". Slate. Washington Post. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC. Retrieved November 11, 2007. 
  2. ^ Hoover, Elizabeth D. (July 5, 2006). "60 Years of Bikinis". American Heritage Inc. Archived from the original on September 9, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2007. 
  3. ^ Mendelsohn, Aline (July 23, 2006). "The bikini celebrates 60 years". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved November 13, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c Sports Illustrated 50: The Anniversary Book, Rob Fleder, 2005, p. 286, ISBN 1-932273-49-2.
  5. ^ Miller, Lia (February 13, 2006). "So Many Models in Bikinis, So Many Ways to See Them". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2007. 
  6. ^ Barboza, David (March 4, 2007). "The People's Republic of Sex Kittens and Metrosexuals". The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2007. 
  7. ^ Layberger, Tom (April 2, 1995). "Under the right cover, "SI' can be hot collectible". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  8. ^ Isidore, Chris (February 16, 2005). "Bikini empire: Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has spawned spin-off products worth $10 million a year". CNNMoney. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Masthead". Sports Illustrated. September 5, 2011: 14. Print.
  10. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Winter 2007, p. 15, Diane Smith, senior editor
  11. ^ Supermodel Marisa Miller Adorns the Cover of the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on Newsstands Today! Archived February 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "2008 Danica Patrick". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Michelle Jenneke's viral dance paves the way for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue". February 13, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  14. ^ DeMarzo, John (February 9, 2015). "Caroline Wozniacki's latest success: SI Swimsuit model". New York Post. NYP Holdings, Inc. Retrieved February 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Eugenie Bouchard Makes Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Debut". February 16, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  16. ^ Feminist Media Round-Up: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Archived July 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. Lisa Bennett, Communications Director, National Organization for Women. February 22, 2002.
  17. ^ Aspan, Maria (March 12, 2007). "The Swimsuits Were Skimpy, but the Magazine Was Invisible". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Ronda Rousey, Ashley Graham & Hailey Clauson each score a SI Swimsuit 2016 cover!". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  19. ^ "Kate Upton is our SI Swimsuit 2017 cover girl!". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Danielle Herrington lands the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2018". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  21. ^ "Marisa Miller: SI Covergirl Unveiled On Letterman". The Huffington Post. February 12, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Letterman to unveil S.I. Swimsuit cover". United Press International, Inc. February 4, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  23. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (February 13, 2014). "Jimmy Kimmel to unveil 'SI' swimsuit cover". USA Today. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  24. ^ The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (February 4, 2015). "Jimmy Unveils the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover". Retrieved March 5, 2018 – via YouTube. 
  25. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2005. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  26. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2006. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  27. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2007. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  28. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Locations 2008. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  29. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2009[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  30. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  31. ^ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Travel Locations 2011. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  32. ^ Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Destinations. Retrieved 2014-04-03
  33. ^ Sports Illustrated 2013 Swimsuit Destinations. Retrieved 2014-04-03
  34. ^ Sports Illustrated 2014 Swimsuit Destinations. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  35. ^ Breslow Sardone, Susan (February 22, 2016). "2016 Sports Illustrated Swimwear Edition Resorts & Locations". Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  36. ^ The Gorgeous Locations Where Sports Illustrated Photographed the 2017 Swimsuit Edition. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  37. ^ Susan Breslow Sardone (16-02-2018). "2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Locations". Trip Savvy. Retrieved 14-03-2018.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  38. ^ "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit on IMDB". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  39. ^ "Making of the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue (1989) (TV)". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Sports Illustrated Behind the Scenes: Official Swimsuit Video (1992) (TV)". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  41. ^ "Sports Illustrated: The 1993 Swimsuit Video (1993) (TV)". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue Video (1994)". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  43. ^ "Spike TV Highlights – February 2005". PRNewswire. January 6, 2005. Retrieved February 25, 2009. 
  44. ^ "Sports Illustrated 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Special: American Beauty (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  45. ^ "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search (2005) TV series". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Campbell, Jule, ed. (1995). The Best of the Swimsuit Supermodels. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781883013226.  Published in both hardcover and softcover editions.
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (1997). Around the World with the Swimsuit Supermodels. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. LCCN 99191547. OCLC 41211842. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (1999). The Best of the Swimsuit Supermodels 1964–1999. New York: Time, Inc.  Collector's edition magazine.
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2002). Sports Illustrated Presents Ultimate Swimsuit 1964–2002. New York: Time, Inc. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2011). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: Fantasy Islands. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781603202091. OCLC 755072628. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2014). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: Idyllic Shores. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781618931214. OCLC 870199673. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2010). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: Paradise Found. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781603201537. OCLC 751578018. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2009). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: The Explorers Edition. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781603200899. OCLC 658199994. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2013). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 978-1618930811. OCLC 827082812. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2008). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: The Complete Portfolio. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781603200417. OCLC 502263177. 
  • Editors of Sports Illustrated (2006). Sports Illustrated: Exposure. Photography by Raphael Mazzucco. New York: Time Home Entertainment. ISBN 9781933405858. LCCN 2006900231. OCLC 75397462. 
  • Gair, Joanne (2007). Sports Illustrated: In the Paint: The Complete Body-Painting Collection from the SI Swimsuit Issue: The Art of Joanne Gair. Photography by James Porto. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781933821207. OCLC 212375500. 
  • Hoffman, Steven (executive director) (2001). Sports Illustrated Knockouts: Five Decades of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Photography. Foreword by Frank Deford. New York: Sports Illustrated. ISBN 9781929049479. 
  • Iooss, Walter (2010). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven. Introduction by Jimmy Buffett. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN 9781603201162. LCCN 2009940848. OCLC 464590580. 

External links[edit]