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What is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue?

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Quick Answer

Since 1964, Sports Illustrated magazine has published an annual Swimsuit Issue that generally features mostly female models and sometimes female athletes in swimwear. As of 2015, the cover of the magazine has always been graced by a woman, which often gives a significant boost to her career.

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The idea was originally conceived as a way to help sales of the magazine during the typically slow winter months. The first model featured on the cover was Babette March. Some models have graced the cover in multiple years, such as Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland and Kate Upton. Covers generally feature one woman, but several issues have featured multiple women.

In 2004, Sports Illustrated added an inset that has become almost as prestigious as being featured on the cover. A number of models featured on the inset have gone on to make the cover in later years, such as Bar Refaeli, Brooklyn Decker and Kate Upton.

Professional models are usually featured on the cover, but some professional athletes have done swimsuit shoots for the magazine. These include Steffi Graf, Anna Kournikova, Serena Williams and Danica Patrick.

While the Swimsuit Edition generally focuses on photo shoots of female models and athletes, some issues have also contained articles and features on male athletes.

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