SI Swimsuit Issue 2013: Ranking Kate Upton Among Other Back-to-Back Cover Models

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 04:  Model Kate Upton attends DIRECTV's Sixth Annual Celebrity Beach Bowl Game at Victory Field on February 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DirecTV)
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

In a shining example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" methodology, Sports Illustrated announced Kate Upton as its swimsuit cover model...again.

America's newest sweetheart graced the front page wearing a bikini in 2012, and this year she'll do the same topless under a low-cut winter jacket. (2013's theme is "Polar Bare," as all the shooting was done in Antarctica).

The announcement puts Upton in rarefied company; she's only the fifth model to make the Sports Illustrated cover in consecutive years.

So, naturally, we took it upon ourselves to see where she ranks on that list. Enjoy!  


1. Christie Brinkley (1979, 1980, 1981)

Even at the advanced age of 59, Brinkley's still got it, appearing as Jerry Gergich's incongruously hot wife on NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Her covers themselves (seen here, here and here) aren't as carnal as Upton's "topless but not really topless" ploy, but that's just a sign of the times.

For what she was asked (and allowed) to do, America's favorite Uptown Girl still goes down as the top SI cover model.


2. Tyra Banks (1996, 1997)

Years before she was entertaining the masses (alright, the modest groups) with girl-power-infused drivel on daytime television, Tyra Banks was the hottest thing going.

She had to share the spotlight with Valeria Mazza in 1996, but the strength of 1997's solo-shoot—perhaps the best cover of all-time—is enough to get her spot No. 2.

Tyra's looks speak for themselves, but that tantalizing promise down the left flank, "Nothing But Bikinis," moves her latter cover from great to elite.


3. Kate Upton (2012, 2013)

Don't kill me, prisoners of the moment. I promise, on the graves of all my ancestors, that I am squarely a member of Team Upton.

It's just hard to put her on top quite this soon. Her reputation precedes her, but c'mon: She's only 20 years old. That's Christie Brinkley and Tyra Banks up there above her. These things take a little more time.

Still, the cute, Cat-Daddying belle of the 2010s is good enough to make third on this exclusive list. If for no other reason than her willingness to shed the top altogether in Antarctica—that's what I call dedication.


4. Elle MacPherson (1986, 1987, 1988)

In almost every conceivable way—the looks, the accent, the ebullience—Elle MacPherson is my dream girl. Out of the five entrants on this list, she's also probably the most famous strictly for the sake of Sports Illustrated covers.

So take my word, it pains me to rank her this low. But whom above her would you move down to make room in the top-3?


5. Paulina Porizkova (1984, 1985)

Porizkova's recent forays into reality TV have been ignominious—she was fired from her post on America's Next Top Model and voted off first on Dancing With the Stars—but her past saw brighter days.

The brainy Czech bombshell was asked to grace the cover in 1984 and 1985, and particularly with the former, she acquitted herself quite nicely.

With these five paragons of beauty, it's hard to rank anybody last on a list of...well, anything. There's a reason Sports Illustrated asked them back twice in a row. But someone has to finish last, right?