The first edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was released back in January of 1964. On the cover of the inaugural publication was a relatively unknown German-born model named Babette March.
Since that time, the annual swimsuit edition has gone on to become one of the most talked-about magazines on the planet. These days, only the most famous model’s or high profile celebrities are fortunate enough to grace the cover of this popular swimsuit showcase. These cover girls are not only known for their beauty; they are also extremely wealthy.
To drive the last point home, let's take a look at the ten wealthiest women to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue based on info from Cheatsheet.com.
10 Cheryl Tiegs ($24 Million)
Cheryl Tiegs was originally born in Breckenridge, Minnesota and is considered by industry insiders to be the first American supermodel. At just seventeen years of age, Tiegs got her big break when she appeared on the cover of Glamor. She would go on to become one of the world’s most famous models throughout much of the 1960s and 70s. In fact, her legendary “Pink Bikini” poster has become an image that is frequently associated with 70s pop culture.
Tiegs made the first of several appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edtion in 1970. Having modeled for over half a century, the 71-year-old has amassed a net worth of roughly $24 million.
9 Bar Refaeli ($25 Million)
Hod HaSharon, Israel’s Bar Rafaeli is one of the most successful models her home country has ever produced. Rafaeli has been modeling since she began appearing in commercials when she was just eight months old. The 5-foot-8 supermodel made a bit of Sports Illustrated history by becoming the second Israeli-born women to appear in the swimsuit edition. For those who may be wondering, the first was Michaela Bercu back in 1990.
In 2009, Rafaeli would wind up on the cover of the popular swimsuit magazine, which further heightened her profile in North America. Outside of modeling, the 34-year-old also hosts The X Factor Israel, which has helped get her net worth up to an impressive $25 million.
8 Rebecca Romijn ($30 Million)
Rebecca Romijn (aka Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) is model and actress who originally hails from Berkley, California. She began modeling in the early 90s and would go on embark on a successful acting career as well. Outside of modeling, the 5-foot-11 star is perhaps best known for playing the role of Mystique in the X-Men film franchise. She was previously married to actor John Stamos and is credited as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos in some of her earlier films.
Romijn made her first of two appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1999. Between both her modeling and acting careers, the 46-year-old is worth around $30 million.
7 Rachel Hunter ($60 Million)
Rachel Hunter is a world-famous model out of Auckland, New Zeland. Like many of the women on our list, she began her modeling career at a very young age – sixteen to be exact. Early on, she made a name for herself in Australia and New Zeland after appearing on the covers of the Aussie versions of Vogue and Cosmopolitan.
However, it was her photo on the cover of the 1989 Swimsuit Issue that would make her an international star. Of course, the 50-year-old is also known as the longtime wife of musician Rod Stewart, who she was married to from 1990 to 2006. In total, Hunter has accumulated roughly $60 million in assets.
6 Christie Brinkley ($80 Million)
Though she was born in Monroe, Michigan, Christe Brinkley grew up in Los Angles California. The self-described “surfer girl’s” modeling career began back in 1973 after being discovered at a post office in Paris, France. Brinkley was one of the most famous models in the world during the 1970s and 80s. She is also known for her high-profile marriage to singer Billy Joel. The two were together from 1985 to 1994 and had a daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, who has become a successful musician in her own right.
From 1979 to 1981, the now 65-year-old appeared on the cover of three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues, helping her become an international star and amass a net worth of around $80 million.
5 Tyra Banks ($90 Million)
Tyra Banks is a native of Inglewood, California who has gone on to take the modeling world by storm. Banks has been modeling since she was fifteen – though she was initially rejected by four agencies. She would go on to break the mold by becoming the first African-American woman to appear on both GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
In 1996, Banks made her first of three appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Outside of modeling, the 45-year-old has had a successful career in television as the producer of America’s Top Model and hosting the Tyra Banks Show. In total, the multi-talented starlet is worth $90 million.
4 Heidi Klum ($90 Million)
West German-born model Heidi Klum is hands down one of the most recognized names in both modeling and television. She began her career in 1991 and appeared on the covers of several European magazines. She rose to international prominence after becoming a Victoria’s Secret’s Angel and appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
1998 would be the first (and surprisingly only) time Klum would appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated most famous edition. A universally recognized model and television star who has appeared on shows like America’s Got Talent; the 46-year-old has accumulated around $90 million in assets.
3 Elle Macpherson ($95 Million)
Australia’s Elle Macpherson is a model, television personality, and 1980s pop culture icon. She achieved a great deal of notoriety for her frequent appearances in Elle (the magazine). However, it was her photo on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1986 that cemented her status as a household name.
At press time, Macpherson holds the record for the most appearances on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue – with five to her credit. The 55-year-old Aussie has also made money appearing on television shows like Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, and with her lingerie line, Elle Macpherson Intimates. In total, the Sports Illustrated record holder is worth a cool $95 million.
2 Kathy Ireland ($500 Million)
Kathy Ireland has gone from being a swimsuit model to become one of the most successful businesswomen in the world today. The Glendale, California native began modeling at sixteen years of age and became internationally known after appearing on the cover of the Swimsuit Edtion back in 1989. In fact, Sport’s Illustrated named Ireland’s first cover "The Greatest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Of All Time" at an anniversary event.
Despite her success as a model, the overwhelming majority of Ireland’s wealth comes from her business, Kathy Ireland Worldwide. The brand, which includes home and fashion accessories, is worth billions. The 56-year-old businesswoman is currently worth an estimated $500 million.
1 Beyonce ($500 Million)
Beyonce is perhaps the most successful singer/songwriter of her generation. The Houston, Texas product is arguably the most recognizable entertainer on Earth at the moment. She is the woman behind hit songs like “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” “If I Were a Boy,” and “Crazy in Love.” These songs have helped her take home an impressive 23 Grammy Awards and counting. Oh, and she has also done a bit of modeling.
The 38-year-old chart-topper appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2007. In truth, only a tiny fraction of Beyonce’s immense wealth has come from modeling. That being said, she is still technically a cover girl who is worth around $500 million.