The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is an American staple. The annual issue, which features models and athletes baring as much skin as humanly possible without veering directly into pornography territory, has been going strong for the better part of half a century. The annual edition, which comes out every year in February or early March, has provided many teenage boys their first glimpse of the female form - or at least, in the days before the Internet, anyway.
The first edition hit news stands in 1964, while the best-selling issue ever was the 1989 25th-anniversary edition, which featured the irresistible Kathy Ireland on the cover. Some of the other notable covers include the 1977 cover, which featured more than one model (twins Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander) for the first time, as well as the 1994 cover, which featured three models for the first time (Rachel Hunter, Kathy Ireland - again - and Elle Macpherson) as well as the 2006 cover, which reunited eight former cover models, including Ireland.
It is estimated that at its peak, the annual edition brought in $35 million in advertising revenues. As time has gone by, the edition has lost some of its edginess (it's tame by today's standards), but it remains a true barometer of down-home American (and Brazilian, and Australian and Swedish...) beauty.
Stay with us as we count down the 10 hottest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Cover Models.
10 Bar Refaeli (2009)
Bar Rafaeli is one of the most wondrous gifts ever given to the West by Israel. The insanely hot model was linked to playboy actor Leonardo DiCaprio - and for good cause. The highest-paid Israeli model in the world has led campaigns for many major fashion houses and first appeared in the SI Swimsuit Edition in 2007 and was on the cover in 2009.
9 Brooklyn Decker (2010)
Brooklyn Decker has long been considered one of the most perfect women in the world. She is a perfect '10' and knows more about football than many of your contemporaries. When she first burst on the scene in 2007, she co-hosted a video segment picking NFL games alongside SI's irascible Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman. The segment, which aired weekly throughout the NFL season, showcased Decker's natural charisma and likability, neither of which were on display in the lousy Battleship movie, which she co-starred in alongside Taylor Kitsch.
8 Tyra Banks (1997)
Tyra Banks has been featured on reality shows and has hosted America's Next Top Model for so long that many, many people have forgotten just how insanely hot Tyra Banks was at her peak. The stunner was also the first African-American to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition as well as GQ. She was also featured as Zoe in Coyote Ugly, but really, who knows what any of those bartenders' names was?
7 Marisa Miller (2008)
Marisa Miller posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition from 2002 to 2008, culminating with her landing on the cover of the 2008 edition wearing a bikini bottom and some strategically placed blue necklaces. Miller was about 30 when she appeared in this photo, showing off her trademark flat tummy, which she attributes to eating while naked. Apparently, you eat a lot less when it's all hanging out, Miller said. "Can you eat a plate of nachos while you're naked? I can't," she told People magazine. Miller, now 37, went on to become a spokesmodel for the NFL and was ranked number 1 on FHM magazine's Sexiest Women in the World poll.
6 Elle Macpherson (1988)
Elle Macpherson, the Australian model known as 'the body' in the 80s, graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 1986, '87 and '88, as well as reunion covers in 1994 and 2006. Guess what, though? No matter how much time has gone by, Macpherson's classic beauty and statuesque physique haven't faded even a little. The model, who spent time dabbling in acting in the '90s with fare such as If Lucy Fell and Sirens.
5 Hannah Davis (2015)
With her come-hither smile and her wind-swept hair, the image of Hannah Davis in the act of removing her bikini bottoms is one that will be soon seared into your memory. I know from experience. Davis, who is mostly known as being one of Derek Jeter's ex-girlfriends (one of many) spent her formative years growing up in the Caribbean nation of St. Thomas, which may indicate why she is so eager to get her swimsuit off.
4 Irina Shayk (2011)
3 Kathy Ireland (1992)
Oh, my. Kathy Ireland is simply amazing. In the days before the Internet, this goddess was the queen of the pinup, with her flawless body and girl-next-door facial features. She was everywhere in those days, doing late-night talk shows, guest starring on sitcoms and appearing in football movies as a female kicker who doubles as the love interest for a 300-pound Samoan, as was the case in the Scott Bakula vehicle Necessary Roughness.
2 Rebecca Romjin (1999)
One of the most recognizable faces on this list, Rebecca Romijn Stamos, as she is legally known, despite being divorced from the former Full House star. Besides, she doesn't need his name anymore anyway, because she is by far the more accomplished of the pair. Having conquered the world of modelling (as is evidenced by her appearance on the cover of the 1999 SI Swimsuit Edition), Romijn moved on to start taking over the world of feature films.
1 Kate Upton (2013)
The blonde bombshell, who graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in consecutive years in 2012 and 2013, is by far the hottest woman ever to make the cover of the annual edition. Upton, who was linked romantically to Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander until January of this year (so you're saying there's a chance?), managed to make Antarctica look sexy in the latter of the two covers in 2013. Funny story about that shoot: it was so cold when Upton took to the deck of a boat in the shadow of a glacier without any top on that she started to experience hearing and vision loss from the extreme cold. The native of Michigan is quite possibly the most accurate living embodiment of the All-American blonde bombshell look, and lives up to that expectation in nearly every photo she is in.
So there you have it; the 10 hottest women ever to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, in all their bikinied glory.
Sources: wikipedia.org; si.com
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