The Top Swimsuit Models for Sports Illustrated
The magazine may be called Sports Illustrated, but most of us associate it with something besides sports—swimsuits!
The legendary magazine has been publishing its iconic Swimsuit Edition every year since 1964, and during that time, some of the world's best and most beautiful models have graced the cover and pages of this edition. Some models even got their big break into stardom because they first appeared on a Swimsuit Edition! It's gotten so popular that now even some non-model celebrities have donned a swimsuit for the magazine's cover.
But the Swimsuit Edition was more than just a way for the company to bring in lots of sales—it actually changed attitudes around swimwear. Without it, we might not even have bikinis these days. Until SI started publishing photos of women wearing them, they weren't a very popular type of swimwear at all! Who knew that a swimsuit magazine could make history like that?
Today, we're taking a look at some of the best and most memorable swimsuit models who have ever graced the pages of Sports Illustrated. From the 1960s until the modern day, there's never been a shortage of beautiful women wearing skimpy swimsuits in the magazine.
Let's get started!
Christie Brinkley is an icon of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit world, and in 1981 she made history with the magazine. Her February appearance made her the first model to appear three consecutive times on the cover.
Christie Brinkley is a model and actress who was the face of CoverGirl for 25 years. She also starred in the film National Lampoon's Vacation had appearances on The Cosby Show, Mad About You and The Goldbergs.
Model Paulina Porizkova raised a few eyebrows when she graced the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue in 1984. Her appearance made her the youngest model to be featured—she was 18 at the time. After the first issue, she was put on a second consecutive issue in 1985.
Paulina Porizkova has been featured in numerous advertising campaigns over the years, including Versace, Chanel, Perry Ellis, Ellen Tracy, Calvin Klein, Revlon and Ann Taylor among others. Other appearances have included a role as a judge on America's Next Top Model and some acting roles as well. She also co-wrote a children's book called "The Adventures of Ralphie the Roach."
Beyonce isn’t an athlete or a swimsuit model - yet the iconic singer still managed to find her way onto the cover of Sports Illustrated. She may not be an official model, but she definitely knows how to wear a bikini as her 2007 Sports Illustrated cover showed us all.
Beyonce has achieved legendary status as a singer, actress and entertainer. She rose to fame as part of the group Destiny's Child which was active from 1997 to 2002. Now she is going it all alone and is more popular than ever before. And through multiple business ventures, including a fashion line, she's become a real entrepreneur.
Elle MacPherson appeared on the cover of SI a total of five times which is a record. The 1988 issue marked the third appearance for the Australian model. Because of her appearances on SI, she earned the nickname "The Body," coined by Time in 1989.
Elle MacPherson has since started a number of business ventures, selling numerous beauty products and fashion items. From 2010 to 2013, MacPherson was Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model. On top of all this, she's done charity work, helping raise money to eradicate AIDS in Africa.
The Sylvander Twins
Two is better than one, or at least that's what Sports Illustrated thought for this cover in 1976. The models are twins Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander, and their appearance marks the first multi-subject swimsuit cover for the magazine. It certainly made for an unforgettable issue.
The Sylvander Twins from Sweden certainly made a big scene at the time but where are they today? It's not quite clear as they are not active in the public spotlight. They do not even have an active social media presence. But hopefully, they are alright.
The official Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated wouldn't be invented for another few decades, but 1964 marked the first time a woman appeared in a swimsuit on the cover of the magazine. The woman on the cover was German model Babette March.
Babette March was allegedly the highest-paid model of her time, earning $86,000 per year in the mid-1960s. She was also active in the celebrity scene, partying with people like Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger. She retired from acting in 1976.
The swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated had been a thing for decades by 1997, but previous issues only had a few pages of swimsuits, while the rest was standard sports fare. However, that all changed in 1997. This issue, featuring Tyra Banks, was the first time an issue had focused solely on swimsuits.
Tyra Banks has certainly had success beyond the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was one of the highest-paid models in the early 2000s and was a Victoria's Secret Angel from 1997 to 2005. She created the show America's Next Top Model and hosted her very own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show.
There's not a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model more iconic than Cheryl Tiegs, and she was making history with the magazine all the way back in 1975. Her appearance on the January cover that year made her the first model to be featured twice.
Cheryl Teigs is often credited as America's first supermodel. In addition to SI, she was also featured multiple times on the cover of People and Time. Her celebrity status helped her launch a clothing line for Sears and got her appearances on a number of television shows over the years.
Carol Alt was yet another model who found fame on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Here, she models for the 1982 swimsuit edition. While her first time on the cover of a magazine was for Harper's Bazaar, her SI appearance was the first major publication that really garnered her some publicity.
After her appearance on the 1982 issue, she appeared on over 500 magazine covers, making her one of the most famous models of her time. Additionally, she has had appearances in film and television throughout the years.
By the '80s, Sports Illustrated and swimsuits were one and the same in the minds of many. This 1989 cover, featuring Kathy Ireland, marked the 25th anniversary of the swimsuit issue and was the best-selling swimsuit issue of all time.
Kathy Ireland was a prominent supermodel from 1980s to the 1990s. She appeared on 13 consecutive issues of SI Swimsuit Issue. She also founded the Kathy Ireland Worldwide marketing company which made her one of the wealthiest former models in the world. By 2015, she had a $420 million personal fortune.
Camille Kostek has everything going for her and then some – just look at all those freckles! 2019 was Kostek’s first appearance on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, and she absolutely killed it. While she’s established and most famous for being a model, she’s so much more than that.
She’s also a television host and actress. You may have seen her as the on-field host of Wipeout on TBS or NBC’s Dancing With Myself. She also momentarily appeared in the 2001 Ryan Reynold’s comedy Free Guy. Being a certified barre instructor and lacrosse enthusiast, we can see how she keeps her body tight and toned.
2004 marked the 40th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and they definitely went all out for the occasion. For a magazine issue about swimsuits, she’s sure not wearing much of one!
Veronica Varekova was featured on the 40th-anniversary cover. The model would appear on the cover of SI for 8 covers in total. She has also appeared on magazines such as Maxim, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Vogue.
Kate Brock, Jasmine Sanders, and Olivia Culpo
We love group shots! This cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition covered three beautiful models – Kate Brock, Jasmine Sanders, and Olivia Culpo. You better believe that the spreads were amazing. Kate Brock came to fame in 2013 after she appeared on her own SI Swimsuit Edition, and she’s been modeling everywhere ever since.
Jasmine Sanders started modeling as a teenager for magazines like Seventeen, but she was also a brand model for Free People, Nike, and ALDO Shoes. Today, she works with Moschino, Ralph Lauren, and DKNY. Last (but certainly not least, Olivia Culpo is a previous Miss Rhode Island who went on to win Miss Rhode Island and Miss USA.
Model Samantha Hoopes hasn't quite yet made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated, but she's made plenty of waves in her sexy swimsuits inside the pages of the publication! She made her official debut in 2014 and has appeared several times since then.
In addition to Sports Illustrated, Hoopes has also appeared in Maxim and in marketing campaigns for Levi's Jeans and Guess. When she's not modeling, Hoopes likes to spend time with her two children and her finance, entrepreneur Salvatore Palella.
Heidi Klum isn't just one of the top Sports Illustrated models—she's one of the most famous and successful supermodels of all time! She's appeared in the pages of the magazine several times, but her biggest break came when she appeared on the cover of the 1998 Swimsuit Edition.
Klum had a hugely successful modeling career, but these days she's moved on to even bigger and better things. She's an Emmy-winning TV host, an actress, and even an artist! Is there anything this woman can't do? We have our doubts!