Sports Illustrated has reached the 50th anniversary of their immensely popular Swimsuit Issue. While the magazine itself isn’t quite as good as it once was, the Swimsuit Issue hasn’t really diminished as a cultural icon and pop culture force.
Over fifty years of the Swimsuit Issue, it has featured 40 models on the cover. I don’t think that this year’s 50th anniversary issue will add to that tally though. I explain in The Lowdown Blog’s annual examination of who will make the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
99-1 An Athlete
Sports Illustrated likes the buzz of getting premiere female athletes out of their gear and into bikinis but I think that’s all they’re interested in. Despite the fact that SI is a sports magazine, they’ve never put an athlete on the cover of their most popular annual issue.
And I don’t think that they will this year. I’m not sure that there is a popular enough athlete that would garner enough mainstream coverage and magazine sales to make naming an athlete to the cover worth it for SI. Someone once accused me of objectifying women with this list. No, I’m making business cases for cover models. I’m fairly certain that’s what SI does before finalizing the cover.
Sometimes, though very, very seldom, Sport Illustrated goes completely off the board when picking a cover model. Granted, my limited knowledge of the Swimsuit Issue’s history means I can only think of Beyonce being a completely off the board pick but they could do it again. It would be almost unthinkable for SI to go with a relatively random choice for such an important issue. I just can’t see that happening.
In an unusual move for the Swimsuit Issue, they released a couple of photos from the 2014 issue early (aside from the rookie announcement photos). They just happen to be of Hannah Davis. I doubt that they would preview using the cover model but one never knows what they’re up to at Swimsuit Central. There could be some significance to Davis’s pictures being officially released early. However, as you can tell by the odds I’ve laid down on Hannah, I think it’s for promotional purposes only.
I don’t think Anne has been officially confirmed as being in this year’s Swimsuit Issue but I’d be surprised if the longest-serving SI Swimsuit model doesn’t get one final appearance. There’s also an outside chance that she might even get the cover this year.
Given that this year would mark her 10th appearance in the Swimsuit Issue, you would think that would earn her a special honour. Sure, SI are likely to limit that special mention to a cover inset or being part of a group cover but there’s always the outside chance that she could make the cover proper. The problem is that the women ahead of Anne on the list are likely to move more issues than her and money talks.
Apart from Kate Upton (who I’ll get to in a minute), Ratajkowski is the SI model with the biggest mainstream profile. Her appearance in the Blurred Lines video raised her profile quite a bit. No, she’s not as big a star as Upton but rumour has it that the SI execs are very high on her and she has a legitimate chance at making the cover.
However, apart from Beyonce, no rookie has made the cover in recent memory. Ratajkowski might be a bit of a celebrity but I don’t think she’s a big enough name to move copies. If she keeps her profile up, she certainly has a shot at the cover in 2015.
By the way, it is just me or was Emily’s announcement photo photoshopped to all hell? I know SI has gotten bad in recent years about using photoshop but it just seems to be getting worse. I’m not sure there’s a square inch on any of the models’ bodies that hasn’t been touched with photoshop and it’s blindly obvious what they’re doing too.
In hindsight, my pick of Nina for last year’s cover might have been a bit too early. She’s certainly the most used model of the women in last year’s swimsuit issue so she’s definitely popular in the industry. While she is growing a following online, she doesn’t have that same mainstream appeal that Kate Upton has, though you could say that about any SI model before they make the cover.
Given the significance of the 50th anniversary of the Swimsuit Issue and that SI likes to mark these occasions, I can’t see them giving the cover to someone relatively unheralded like Agdal. That being said, she’s my early favourite for 2015 unless there’s another breakout star.
To borrow a line from friend of the blog, The Swimsuitologist, how do you up the ante of a popular recurring character? Put her in space! Rumour has it that Kate did a zero-gravity space-themed shoot for this issue. Like with the big Antarctica trip, I don’t think SI would try something this gimmicky unless they had big plans for Upton like a third-straight cover.
That being said, this space shoot is the only thing that gets her to the top of the list. She’s basically stopped modelling at this point now. She does her annual SI shoot and a couple of magazines but is basically just an actress now. SI made her a star and I guess SI needs her more than she needs them. That’s why she gets the big budget shoots and the cover. SI needs her to move copies. And moving copies is what makes her the model at the top of the list.
As this is the 50th Anniversary of the Swimsuit Issue, I would expect SI to do something special for the cover. A third-straight Upton cover just wouldn’t be special anymore. So I’m borrowing an idea from the 2006 “All-Star Reunion” cover which featured eight former SI Swimsuit Issue cover models.
This year’s issue has four former cover models confirmed: Christie Brinkley, Tyra Banks, Carol Alt and Bar Refaeli. Presumably more will also make appearances. Whether this is a tribute to years past or part of a bigger deal, like the cover, won’t be confirmed until the cover is leaked. Still, I think a group of former cover models, possibly including Upton, would get the biggest mainstream buzz for SI so the All-Star Cover is my pick for the 2014 cover.
Now, watch me get it wrong again.
(A picture has been removed from this post following a DMCA claim by the management of a pictured model rather than someone representing the owner of the picture or its photographer. Thanks, Obama.)
Obligatory Legal-ish Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. If you gamble your money based on the ramblings of a man who’s never bet a dime in his life, it’s your own damn fault. Hell, we aren’t even sure about the full line-up of models in this year’s issue yet.