Kate Upton Is on the Cover of the 2017 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Issue for the Third Time

Who needs fresh talent anyway, right?
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Maura Brannigan
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Who needs fresh talent anyway, right?
Photo: Yu Tsai/"Sports Illustrated"

Photo: Yu Tsai/"Sports Illustrated"

We at Fashionista spent most of the month of September advertising the fact that there were other models on this Earth besides those named "Kendall" or "Gigi." For the October 2016 issues, it beared repeating: Kendall Jenner, for one, was on the cover of seven international fashion magazines, ranging from Allure to Vogue Japan, while that same month, 21-year-old supermodel Gigi Hadid fronted Harper's Bazaar alongside a cover line that read "Fabulous at Every Age." We attempted to break through the noise by literally compiling a list of 50 models who aren't Jenners or Hadids, but — we swear! — look great on magazines. Must we now conduct the same exercise for Sports Illustrated?

As was announced late Tuesday night, Kate Upton is the cover star of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. You, like us, might've thought: "Huh, wasn't she just on the cover?" You, like us, would've thought correctly: Upton first began her career as the publication's Rookie of the Year in 2011, followed by back-to-back covers in 2012 and 2013 (the latter of which was memorably shot in Antarctica). Sports Illustrated moved on in 2014, 2015 and 2016, even going so far as to crown three separate cover stars, including Ashley Graham, last year — but now, Upton's back.

Upton is, unquestionably, a great cover star; she's perfect for Sports Illustrated, and will forever be associated with the publication for as long as she's working in this industry. But after tapping Graham just 12 months ago, Sports Illustrated probably could have afforded to invest in fresh talent. And it seems that some fans on Instagram agree; beneath Upton's cover reveal, one commenter wrote: "Yay, another white blonde with big boobs on the cover! So much for diversity...". Another: "@kateupton is beautiful but as long as you were repeating you should have chose @christiebrinkley because at 63 she still clearly represents health, fitness and beauty."

Upton, as with Jenner and Hadid, will move sales — but we bet any number of Sports Illustrated stand-bys like Nina Agdal, Myla Dalbesio or Christie Brinkley could have done the job, too.

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