The Sexiest SI Cover Models of All Time
Cover appearances: 1996, 1997
Banks broke barriers as the first African-American woman to be featured solo on the infamous cover, and we couldn’t be more proud! With her killer curves and confidence to match, there’s nothing better than a strong, fierce woman rocking a bikini. The model mogul admits to getting stuck in unhealthy eating patterns in the past, but it’s refreshing to hear she goes through it just like the rest of us. The best part? She launched her “So What” campaign to promote positive body images for young girls.
Cover appearances: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 2006
This six-foot-stunner is nicknamed "The Body" for a reason. With curves in all the right places and long, lean legs that seem to go on for miles, it’s safe to say the five-time Sports Illustrated superstar has one ah-may-zing bod. So amazing in fact, she holds the record for most cover appearances of all time!
It’s easy to assume her famous physique is the result of endless intense workouts and serious calorie-cutting, but for her, it’s all about quality over quantity. The Aussie beauty trains with fitness expert James Duigan, who designed a metabolic program that can be done in as little as 20 minutes. “My motto is work smarter, not harder! Elle is one of the busiest people I know. We do what we can, when we can,” Duigan told SHAPE.
Cover appearances: 1998
Supermodel Heidi Klum is no stranger to skimpy, sizzling photos, and her 1998 appearance on the world-famous issue was no different. The 39-year-old Victoria’s Secret Angel swears by yoga, boxing, and running, along with regular workouts with David Kirsch to stay bikini-ready all year round. “I represent more the healthy, happy, curvy, strong woman. And that sounds much healthier to me than being 80 pounds and skinny as a bean,” she says.
Cover appearances: 2011
Even though this ravishing Russian stunner didn’t appear on the cover of SI until 2011, she’s been heating up the inside pages since 2007. Clearly she has some pretty good genes, but the supermodel admits she has to work hard for that bodacious bikini bod; Shayk has been training with Justin Gelband for more than four years, doing a mix of boxing, Pilates, and band exercises. “You have to be tough. I'm not a lazy person and I push myself. I go to the gym three or four times a week when I'm not traveling,” she told Vogue.
Cover appearances: 2007
Bikini-body-Bey was the first and only non-model/non-athlete thus far to appear on the cover of the SI Swimsuit Edition. As usual, Queen B looked absolutely gorgeous, heating up the glossy mag in a yellow and pink two-piece by House of Dereon, the fashion label she started with her mom. The shoot came off the back of her Golden Globe-nominated performance in Dreamgirls, and no question, Knowles looked every bit the part.
No stranger to intense workouts, the superstar singer logs long hours in the gym before tours—but not worry, she’s never losing those killer curves. “I don’t want to lose my curves. You can never do enough squats, you can never do enough sit-ups. But as far as losing too much weight or building too much muscle, I like for women to look feminine,” she told Allure.
Cover appearances: 2008
Soon after being discovered by famous photographer Mario Testino in 2001, Marisa Miller landed a coveted spot in every SI Swimsuit Edition from 2002 to 2008, until she finally graced the cover (and what a cover it was!). Known for her insanely flat belly, the 34-year-old blonde bombshell has an interesting diet tip that really works: Eat naked!
“Eating smart is all about having an awareness of your body. The most obvious way to do that is by seeing it. So when you’re trying to lose weight, spend more time wearing less. I don’t think I could eat a plate of nachos naked—could you?” Good point, girl!
Cover appearances: 1979, 1980, 1981
Christie Brinkley has graced more than 500 magazine covers in her incredible 40-year career, but it was her SI work that launched the then 25-year-old blonde beauty into superstardom. With a body to die for and the face of an angel, she spent the next 25 years as the face of CoverGirl, nailing the longest running cosmetics contract of any model in history.
The camera obviously loves her and so do we! At 59, she’s still as beautiful as ever. “My age has so little to do with my image of myself because at a certain point, the number just didn't fit how I felt. It has become irrelevant to me,” Brinkley told SHAPE. “I just don't feel like that number is representative of my spirit, of my energy or my anything!”
Cover appearances: 1989, 1992, 1994
Kathy Ireland’s very first appearance as an SI cover model was so hot, it just so happens to be the best-selling issue of all time! But it’s no surprise, given the fact that the brunette bombshell is a fitness guru who has inspired millions with her workout DVDs. She is the true prototype for model-turned-mogul, clocking in a net worth of more than 350 million big ones.
What’s her secret to staying so young, fit, and fabulous? “Any physical activity with our children is a great joy and believe me, they keep me in shape. I love to bike, hike, swim, and surf, especially walking on the beach in the sand, just before I catch a big wave,” she told SHAPE. “My goal is just to be as healthy as possible and keep up with our children. I want to go surfing on my 120th birthday.”
Cover appearances: 1970, 1975, 1983
Due to her stunning yet wholesome good looks, Cheryl Tiegs made the cover of SI three times. After all, who could forget the 1978 poster of her in a pink bikini that became an iconic image in pop culture history?
“Sports Illustrated always has that fine line of being very sexy, girl next door, earthy, kind of athletic,” Tiegs told Access Hollywood Live. We’d say that describes her to a T! The veteran model is an avid spokesperson for health and fitness, so it’s no surprise her common-sense approach to a balanced diet keeps her sexy even at 65. "It's not about depriving yourself of the things you want, it's about portions and knowing what you're buying at the supermarket,” she told Modelinia.
Betty di Bugnano
Cover appearances: 1955
The first time Sports Illustrated put a model in a swimsuit on its cover was in 1955, featuring the oh-so-beautiful Betty di Bugnano in a tasteful yet titillating one-piece suit (it was even part of her own collection). It may not have featured as much skin as we’re used to now, but that doesn’t mean it was any less stunning. The radiant model was truly the pioneer when it comes to the iconic brand. Little info can be found on Betty now, but one thing’s for sure: she’s gorgeous!
Image courtesy of Google