Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 | 10:36 a.m.
Kate Upton and Holly Madison
Is this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl a rerun from 2012? Some insiders are saying, and showing proof with a sneaked cover release, that buxom blonde beauty Kate Upton is back for a second consecutive year. Gorgeous and tall Kate was here last month for the opening of Andrea’s in Steve Wynn’s Encore named for his British wife Andrea.
At that time when I chatted with Kate, she may have dropped a hint about being the cover girl again. She told me that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girls couldn’t have boyfriends so that they could focus on their modeling career, travels and promotional obligations for the magazine. However, Kate has been romantically linked with Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, although she was solo on her Las Vegas visit.
Despite Friday night and early reports today on Kate, confusion swirls in some quarters that the leaked cover is a diversion to keep the real cover under wraps until it’s shown Monday night on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
Two clues contribute to the possible mystery: First, Kate is not seen in a swimsuit, which would be Priority No. 1 for the cover. She’s in just a white bikini bottom and an open, unzipped, fur-hooded white snow parka that shows off more than a men’s magazine cleavage.
Secondly, New York media insiders say that Sports Illustrated, a division of Time Inc., wouldn’t run the risk of losing giant newsstand sales when the edition is released Tuesday. They cite that sensitive distributors in parts of the country would yank it from shelves if protests began over Kate’s revealing curves. Unlike Playboy and Penthouse, Sports Illustrated would never jeopardize sales of the bestselling issue by covering it up partially in black plastic.
Kate was photographed for a first-ever fashion shoot on the snowy slopes of Antarctica for the 50th anniversary issue. It would be the first time since Elle Macpherson won three consecutive covers from 1986 to 1988 that a model has won back-to-back covers. Christie Brinkley and Paulina Porizkova are the only others to win consecutive notoriety.
The supposed cover also headlines newcomer Hannah Davis, who we mentioned in our rundown of the Sports Illustrated models visiting Las Vegas this coming week. Hannah, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s girlfriend, also was tipped as a possible cover girl.
The magazine, which photographed its supermodel lineup on all seven continents, also banners its layout with Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb, who was here at Planet Hollywood for last year’s pageant. Katherine was the center of a recent media frenzy when sports commentator Brent Musburger on ESPN was accused of having TV cameras focus in on her when he made questionable comments about how quarterbacks always get the beautiful women. Katherine will be featured in a body-paint pictorial.
Although Sports Illustrated editors whispered Friday night that Kate is the cover choice, the official reveal will be made by David on Monday evening at his New York studio chosen from 10 of the models anxiously awaiting to see if they are the chosen one. Even they don’t know until then. The winner returns the next night for an interview with David before the NYC party amid Fashion Week.
Early Wednesday, Kate and the issue’s top bikini beauties and swimsuit stunners, including rumored frontrunner Nina Agdal, the Carl’s Jr. commercial cutie, jet to Las Vegas for three days of official parties. I’ve learned that some of them will not fly back East on Friday and will stay over for an extended Valentine’s Day weekend here with a new soiree set for The Bank in Bellagio on Friday night.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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