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Top 10 Hottest 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Celebrities

Chisom Ndianefo - Author

May 6 2022, Published 6:18 a.m. ET

Since its inception in 1964, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been the most coveted magazine cover for models and later entertainers of different nature. Gracing the cover once is one of the highest achievements a model can earn, however, some have had the privilege of appearance severally. Although the magazine cover went exclusively to models in the beginning few entertainers and athletes have had the honors too.

In 2014, the magazine named 2 legends to celebrate its 50th year in business including Tyra Banks, Irina Shayk, Christie Brinkley, and more.

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Here's a list of ten Iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers.

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10. Bar Refaeli

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In 2009, Bar Refaeli made her first appearance on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue before covering six more issues. Her first cover showed her wearing a two-toned bikini with a triangle top that flaunted her full cleavage and her toned abs leading to her bare pelvis through the tugged-down bottoms. The Israeli model also had a small postcard picture on the side where she posed topless.

Watch the shoot here.

9. Irina Shayk

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Still talking about firsts, Russian Model Irina Shayk became the first from her country to grace the coveted Sports Illustrated Cover in 2011. This cover launched her into international stardom, making her one of the top models in the industry. The now 36-year-old is a one-time cover star but ten-time SI Swimsuit model. She wore a two-toned pink and yellow bikini while kneeling on the beach in Hawaii.

Watch the shoot here.

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8. Heidi Klum

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German-American supermodel Heidi Klum is another multi-timer on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover. Her first solo cover in 1998 gained international recognition thanks to her signing as a Victoria's Secret Angel in 1997 - it didn't get better than that in the Nineties!

The 48-year-old has a fully-packed resume as a reality TV show judge (Project Runway, Germany's Next Top Model), six-time Emmy Award nominee, Actress, and singer (she released a song with Snoop Dogg last year.)

7. Megan Thee Stallion

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Megan Thee Stallion holds the record as the first female rapper to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

"I think they are on the forefront when it comes to diversity and inclusion because they do not fear change, they lean into it," Megan says. "They see the world and have it reflect on the cover and pages inside. That is why they have been so successful."

Watch the behind-the-scenes here.

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6. Ashley Graham

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Ashley Graham became the first plus-size model in Sports Illustrated in 2016, sparking a lot of controversies. The now 34-year-old model posed in an indigo bikini with orange strings flaunting her voluptuous body. SI Swimsuit alum Cheryl Tiegs came under fire for criticizing her cover, saying that her waist was too wide to be featured as an SI model. Graham has since become an advocate for body positivity, featured in music videos, judged on America's Next Top Model, and book author.

Watch more of the shoot here.

5. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter

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We can't talk about 001 without mentioning 002, and that's why Beyoncé's 2007 cover makes this list. The now 40-year-old multi-award-winning pop star has permanently carved a place for herself in the entertainment world. She's the definition of a triple threat, and even back then, it was apparent she would go places.

She wore a two-toned yellow and pink bikini with her signature curly honey brown hair. Beyoncé's cover made her the first musician to cover the swimsuit issue.

Watch the shoot here.

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4. Christie Brinkley

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1979, 1980, and 1981, model Christie Brinkley appeared in three consecutive Sports Illustrated covers - an unprecedented feat, and even now! The retired supermodel has become a business mogul and New York Best-Selling Author.

In 2017, she returned to the magazine's cover with her now-grown daughters, including Alexa, who's become an SI Swimsuit model herself.

Watch the latest shoot here.

3. Elle Macpherson

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Elle MacPherson is the first Sports Illustrated cover girl to have three consecutive issues in 1986, 1987, and 1988. She later bagged two more covers in 1994 and 2006. Her first cover featured her in a sky blue bathing suit with a V-shape suspender attached to high waist bottoms.

The Australian model now 57 owns a supplement company WelleCo and practices holistic beauty routines to maintain her skin's glow and softness.

MacPherson's 1988 cover solidified her as SI royalty earning her the nickname "The Body" by Time Magazine. She also appeared on the famous TV sitcom FRIENDS.

Watch the old shoot here.

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2. Tyra Banks

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Tyra Banks being the first black woman to cover Sports Illustrated was a historical moment, and people still talk about it to date. The hazel-eyed model did great things in her chosen career, from being Victoria's Secret Angle between 1997 - 2002 to hosting her eponymous talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, and famous America's Next Top Model birthed other supermodels like Winnie Harlow.

Since her first groundbreaking cover, Banks has appeared two more times on Sports Illustrated, the last being in 2019 wearing a bright yellow Bikini.

1. Kathy Ireland

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Kathy Ireland is Sports Illustrated royalty because she's appeared in the magazine 13 times more than any other person! Not only that, but Ireland's 25th-anniversary issue of 1989 is the highest-selling SI Magazine of all time! It featured the model in a wet look sitting on a rock with water droplets sliding off her body and her brown-black hair sleeked back from moisture.

She wore a bright yellow bikini consisting of a sleeveless top and matching bottoms without any jewelry pieces. In 1994, the model joined Elle MacPherson and Rachel Hunter in a triple cover issue becoming the first pregnant model on the cover (with Hunter).

Watch the old shoot here.

Honorable Mention: Chrissy Teigen

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It's always hard to pick amongst all the beautiful women, and this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Chrissy Teigen.

Watch the shoot here.


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