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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The History of the Swimsuit Edition

This year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model is the beautiful Irina Shayk! Every swimsuit model’s dream is to grace the cover, and women around the world wish to look like the beautiful women in its pages. I decided to find out more about the history of the Swimsuit Edition and how it became so popular.

The Sports Illustrated has been estimated to have as many as 19% of adult males in the United States reading it each year. With over 3 million subscribers, it’s one of the most popular magazines in the country. 

Each February, subscribers anxiously await by their mailboxes for the most popular issue of the year – the annual swimsuit issue. 

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition began as a gimmick to increase readership in the winter months. Today it has become a mainstay of the fashion industry and some of the models that pose for the issue become some of the biggest modeling names in the world.

In 1964, the first year the gimmick to get more readers was tried, featured Babette March on the cover and included a five page layout. It worked immediately and the swimsuit edition became an annual event.

Models that appeared in the early editions of the Swimsuit issue included Sue Peterson, Marilyn Tindall and Cheryl Tiegs.

During the 80s, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition featured and introduced some of the world’s biggest supermodels: Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson and Kathy Ireland. The Swimsuit Edition also started dedicated more swimsuit layouts features and more exotic photo shoot locations. In 1989, Kathy Ireland graced the cover of the 25th Anniversary issue, and it because the best selling issue of all time.

In the 90s, the Swimsuit Edition still featured supermodels, but also began including male and female sports stars and sports couples. Since 1995, a feature video has also been made showing the behind the scenes making of the edition, and is extremely popular.

In 2006, the magazine sent out the now infamous “topless” cover that featured models Rachel Hunter, Veronica Varkova, Elle Macpherson, Rebecca Romijn, Daniela Pestova, Elsa Benitez, Carolyn Murphy and Yamila Diaz topless. Because of the outrage, Sports Illustrated no longer automatically sends the issue – it gives the subscribers the option to opt out of receiving it.

Want to know more about this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover girl? You can find it here!

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