Sports Illustrated recently published every single cover of their famed swimsuit issue. The first edition was published in 1964 and happened almost by accident after the magazine was forced to create a cover during a slow sports period in the mid-1960s sporting calendar. What started off as filler has turned into an institution that rakes in huge money ($35 million in ad revenue), has had the world’s hottest women grace its covers and is regarded as making the bikini a widespread legitimate piece of apparel.
In honor of this, we bring you our picks for the Top 10 Hottest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers of all time...
#10 Babette March (1964)
This is the famed cover that started it all. The story goes that fashion reporter Jules Campell was sent “to go on a shoot to fill space, including the cover, with a beautiful model.” The magazine contained this cover and a 5 page spread. The rest is history.
#9 Christie Brinkley (1981)
Cover girl Christie Brinkley was the first model to grace consecutive issues of the magazine. She appeared on the cover in the years 1979, 1980 and 1981. This cover was shot on Captiva Island, Florida.
#8 Kathy Ireland (1989)
Kathy Ireland’s 1989 cover is the best selling swimsuit issue in the history of the magazine. That’s pretty nice for an issue that was celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary.
#7 All-star Past Cover Models (2006)
This issue re-unites some of the all-stars of past Swimsuit issues. The cover has the most models on the cover of any issue. Veronica Varekova, Elle Macpherson, Rebecca Romijn, Rachel Hunter, Daniela Pestova, Elsa Benitez, Carolyn Murphy, Yamila Diaz all stand shoulder to shoulder covering their breasts with their hands on a sandy white beach as if they have all been playing around with each other. It’s totally hot.
#6 Marisa Miller (2008)
Marisa Miller finally made the cover of this year’s issue after appearing in every issue since 2002. The funny thing about this issue is that it’s extremely similar to 2000’s issue with Daniela Pestova on the cover. You be the judge.
#5 Maria Joao (1978)
Maria Joao’s issue is the most complained about issue in the history of Sports Illustrated Magazine, mainly because it featured practically nude shots of Cheryl Tiegs. Subscribers of the magazine generally either love the Swimsuit issue or hate it. Subscribers have been known to cancel their subscription when the Swimsuit Issue arrives. Joao’s issue received the most cancellations of any issue in history. Sport Illustrated now allows subscribers to “skip” the swimsuit edition for credit.
#4 Heidi Klum (1998)
Heidi Klum’s cleavage is on full show in this very sexy cover. Even today as the mother of 3, Heidi Klum is a mainstay of the Swimsuit Edition. She appeared in this year’s issue alongside Will Ferrell in some very funny shots, though with less cleavage.
#3 Cheryl Tiegs (1975)
Cheryl Tiegs has appeared on the 1970, 1975, and 1983 covers. She is one of the icons of Sports Illustrated and is perhaps best known for her spread inside the 1978 issue. The story goes that Cheryl took a swim whilst in the middle of posing for the centerfold of that issue. She was wearing a white cotton fishnet swimsuit. When she emerged from the water she was flocked by photographers. It was only until the photos were printed that she understood all the fuss – the swimsuit was practically see through.
#2 Tyra Banks (1997)
Tyra Banks shows off her voluptuous body in this smoking hot and historic cover. She was the first African-American model to appear alone on the cover of the Swimsuit issue. Banks recently marked the 10 year anniversary of the famous cover by re-creating it for her annoying talk show. Fabric needed to be added to the bikini as Banks has gained some weight over the years. Of the initial shoot Banks stated she “looked like a stripper” when she put it on.
#1 Elle Macpherson (1987)
Elle Macpherson takes out the top spot because she has graced the most covers and each one is ridiculous (1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 2006). Any of her 5 covers could win. The hardest part was deciding which Elle Macpherson cover should be in the top 10. There is a reason she’s nicknamed “The Body”. She’s incredible then and at 41 years of age she’s still incredible.
Which cover do you like best?