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Kate Upton: It’s Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!)

Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 1Kate Upton is this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover girl. She took a brief star turn on David Letterman last night (Feb. 13) along with other swimsuit models, including last year’s cover girl Irina Shayk.

Irina, 26, and Kate, 19, posed outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City where the show is taped.

Eight other models joined them on the show, including Alyssa Miller, Izabel Goulart, Meredith Ariel and Jessica Gomes.

As part of a tradition, the cover was unveiled on show. The cover, however, leaked beforehand and went viral on the Internet.

Check out Kate’s cover; click to enlarge.

Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 2kateupton-billboard-95x95

A huge billboard featuring Upton on the cover has been erected outside Letterman’s studio in New York city and was visible to the public yesterday (Feb. 13).

On the cover, Upton wears a micro string bikini in red-and-brown and covered with sparkles.

Check out Kate’s 2011 photos; click to enlarge.

Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 3Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 4Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 5Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 6Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 7Kate Upton: It's Official! Model Covers SI Swimsuit Issue! (photos!) 8

The photo was shot in Australia. “That was one of the first photos from the first shoot,” she told The Associated Press. “It was my favorite swimsuit. … I felt sexy in it but confident.”

The five-foot, 10-inch tall model was born in Michigan and raised in Melbourne, Fla.

“In Florida, people walk around in their flip-flops, bikinis and jean shorts, so I’m very comfortable in a bathing suit,” she said.

“I have had a great year,” she said. “For me, this is groundbreaking.”

Upton debuted in the 2011 edition, and was named Rookie of the Year.

She also appeared in Sports Illustrated’s 2012 Calendar, along with a dozen other models.

Upton is currently repped by IMG Models. She has also appeared in a high-profile campaign for Guess.

SI Models Shed Bikini Tops

A video of the foxy model went viral last year when she was filmed dancing vicariously at a basketball game with fellow SI model Damaris Lewis. She was doing the Dougie at about the same time that the dance became popular.

Sports Illustrated has been a launching pad for a number of models from Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley and Paulina Porizkova to Elle Macpherson, Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Petra Nemcova, Valeria Mazza, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and Marisa Miller.

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