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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 02/14/2012

Kate Upton on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit cover. Yes, there’s a swimsuit there.

From Dougie-doer to Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue cover model was a hop, skip, jump and wiggle for Kate Upton, who graces the cover of the annual issue devoted to the artistic accomplishments of the world’s garment workers.


Kate Upton, uncovered on the cover. (Walter Iooss Jr. / AP - AP)
Upton has taken a multimedia, multiplatform route to the cover spot. (She’s also been romantically linked, as they say, to New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, which may or may not have helped.)

After a brief appearance in last year’s swimsuit issue, a YouTube video of Upton doing the Dougie at a Los Angeles Clippers game exploded upon the internet in April. Since then, there have been modeling jobs (see: Secret, Victoria’s) and multiple occasions for runway strutting.

No matter how un­or­tho­dox, how very modern the route she has taken, Upton is firmly in territory occupied by former cover models Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Elle MacPherson, Tyra Banks and Brooklyn Decker now. “Social media brings a personality to models. That’s how consumers today decide what to buy,” Upton, 19, said in a recent New York Times interview.

She knows how to reach an audience, that’s for sure. Her YouTube video has been viewed over 3 million times and she has 176,000 Twitter followers, although it seems extremely unlikely that the alleged swimsuit she wears on the SI cover is likely to become a big seller. For her and swimsuit issue devotees (most of whom probably still live at home), that’s beside the point.

“People told me I couldn’t be fashion, that I’m just an old-fashioned body girl, only good for swimwear,” Upton said. “But I knew that I could bring back the supermodel. ... What can I say? I’m relatable.”

It also doesn’t hurt to land the SI swimsuit cover — you know, the one with the high profile that’s annually ripped for being too revealing, sexist and, like Playboy, increasingly unnecessary. Let’s see if she can change that.

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 02/14/2012

 
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