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Sneak peek: Who is this year's SI Swimsuit Issue cover model?

Derek Kettela / Sports Illustrated

After being launched to stardom on the cover of last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Kate Upton is right back where she started.

SI released a sneak peek of the cover on Twitter Friday, and it features the 5-foot-11 blonde bombshell for the second straight year. This is the 50th anniversary of the Swimsuit Issue, and, fittingly, considering the weather in much of the Northeast, it has gone with a winter theme. The cover features a topless Upton clad in a winter jacket and a bikini bottom with the headline “Polar Bare.’’

Upton will appear on TODAY Tuesday for an exclusive first interview about her second straight cover. 

The issue will be available on Feb. 12, just over 50 years after model Babette March appeared in a modest white two-piece bathing suit in the inaugural issue on Jan. 20, 1965. The official unveiling of Upton’s new cover will come on “Late Night With David Letterman” on Monday.

The 20-year-old is the ninth model to appear on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue at least twice, and the first to have the cover all to herself in two straight years since Elle Macpherson made three in a row from 1986-88. Carolyn Murphy appeared on consecutive covers in 2005-06, but was featured with seven other models on the 2006 cover. Tyra Banks had back-to-back covers in 1996-97, but she appeared with Valeria Mazza on the 1996 cover. Macpherson’s five cover appearances are the most of any supermodel in the history of the issue.

Upton’s sizzling cover comes on the heels of her racy Super Bowl ad for Mercedes Benz. She is the latest star in an issue that has generated more than $1 billion for SI since its inception and is responsible for seven percent of SI’s annual revenue, according to Forbes.

Upton also has taken an unlikely path to stardom, as she was discovered by modeling agencies after a video she posted of herself doing the "Dougie'' at a Los Angeles Lakers game in 2011 on YouTube went viral. 

Read more: 

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