1.The first SI covergirl was Babette March. The Berlin-born model was raised in Brazil, Germany, and Canada, and on January 20, 1964, she became the first of 43 different women who have graced the cover over the last 50 years. Upon retiring from modeling, the now 73-year-old March settled down in Oregon and opened a baker/restaurant/art gallery with her husband.
2. The first woman to appear on the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue for a second time also happens to be the first woman the SI Swimsuit Issue turned into a superstar. Cheryl Tiegs graced the cover for the first time in 1970, and in 1975 she made a bit of history when she graced the cover again—though at the time the Swimsuit Issue was just 12 years old, and nobody really knew what it would become.
3. Cheryl Tiegs may have been the first model to appear on the cover a second time, but the first woman to make the cover in back-t0-back years was Christie Brinkley. She made the cover in 1979, and everyone liked it so much they really had no choice but to have her back in 1980.
Of course, the back-to-back covers club is pretty exclusive. Since Brinkley only five women have made the cover in consecutive years, and only three of them made back-to-back covers all by themselves.
4. Christie Brinkley wasn’t just the first model to make the cover two years in a row. She was also the first model to make it a threepeat.
Since Christie’s run from 1970 to 1981, only one other woman has pulled off the rare threepeat: Elle Macpherson. She did it from 1986 to 1988.
5. Elle MacPherson again. Not only is she one of just two women to pull of the threepeat, but she also made two more appearances in 1994 and 2006, bringing her total covers up to five. That’s two more covers than anyone else and, most remarkably, they came in three different decades.
6. The 50th anniversary issue will probably sell pretty well. However, until the numbers are in, the official best-selling issue of all-time is the 25th anniversary issue from 1989, which featured none other than Kathy Ireland on the cover.
That issue was Ireland’s first on the cover, and she would go on to make two more. However, unlike Brinkley or MacPherson, Ireland never made the cover in consecutive years. So she’s kind of like the San Antonio Spurs of SI cover models.
7. This one is somewhat surprising. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue didn’t feature a black woman on the cover until 1996, and even then Tyra Banks appeared alongside Argentinian beauty Valeria Mazza. It wasn’t until the following year that Tyra appeared on the cover all by herself.
The only other black woman to make the cover of the Swimsuit Issue since then? That would be Beyoncé—who is also the only non-model to make the cover.
8. You might think the honor of youngest cover model in SI Swimsuit history belongs to Kate Upton, who was 19 years old when she made the cover for the first time in 2012. However, the honor actually belongs to Paulina Porizkova, who was just 18 when she appeared on the cover in 1984.
Paulina would go on to make the cover again in 1985, giving her two appearances before she even turned 20 years old. She was like a swimsuit modeling prodigy or something.
9. The women on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue always get all the attention, as they should. However, did you ever stop to wonder who’s taking the photographs that appear on the cover?
Well, there have obviously been many SI Swimsuit Photographers over the years. However, no one has more covers than Walter Iooss Jr. The Sports Illustrated photographer is probably best-known for his award-winning photographs of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Muhammad Ali. However, he’s also been doing the Swimsuit Issue for forty years, and over that time 12 of his photographs have appeared on the cover.
Iooss didn’t get this year’s cover, though. That one was shot by James Macari.
10. Over the years the Swimsuit Issue has been shot is a lot of different exotic locations. But exactly how many are we talking about?
Well, there have been over 150 destinations in over 50 countries, and to get there the most gorgeous supermodels in the world have travelled over 1,000,000 miles.
Of course, when it comes to remote locations, no one will ever top Kate Upton’s trip to Antarctica last year unless they start sending models to space.
11. These days everyone who subscribes to SI knows about the Swimsuit Issue. However, in the early years, Sports Illustrated would get tons of letters complaining about the scantily clad women in their Swimsuit Issue, and every year people cancel their subscriptions in outrage.
But which issue caused the most outrage? That would be the 1978 issue. It wasn’t so much the cover (featuring Brazil’s Maria Joao) that set people off. It was the images of Cheryl Tiegs in a see-through fishnet swimming suit.
That year a record 340 subscriptions were cancelled, and SI received a record 2,947 letters complaining about the images.
12. The magazine industry may be slowly dying, but the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is still a major cash cow. To date it has earned over $1 billion for Sports Illustrated, and each year it generates a whopping 7% of their revenue.
When you consider that SI publishes 56 issues a year, 7% from one issue is pretty huge.