SI Swimsuit Challenge
Instagram: Amanda Rodriguez

Real Women Are Bringing SI's Swimsuit Covers Back to Glory

Sports Illustrated brought heroes right to my doorstep. In all honesty, reading SI articles and seeing the magazine's photographs of sports' greatest men and women guided me toward a path in journalism. A copy of SI's famous cover featuring Pittsburgh legends Terry Bradshaw and Willie Stargell hangs above my fireplace, and I still have a stack of magazines dated throughout the 2000s in my closet. (I'll direct you to November 5th, 2012 for my favorite example.)

But let's be honest: nothing can ever, and will ever, top Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit edition.

Needing to fill the sports calendar's slow-moving winter months, longtime SI editor Andre Laguerre had an idea. He sought out Jule Campbell, one of the best fashion reporters in the business, and asked, "How would you like to go to some beautiful place and put a pretty girl on the cover?"

In the words of Michael Scott, they stumbled upon a "Golden Ticket Idea."

In 1964, Babette March covered the first-ever SI swimsuit edition. Campbell took control of the special edition's publishing and editorial practices, building the annual release into a multi-million cash cow — The New York City-based magazine featured $35 million in ad sales in 2005 alone alongside a bunch of stunning models wearing bikinis.

1964: First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

The 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition's expected release was postponed, as is most other things across the United States, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 virus. Hunter McGrady, who debuted in SI's edition back in 2018, told that the issue is in the works and will be released this year:

"They don't know the exact date because of course, this situation has backed everything up and they're really focused on what's important right now — which is the health and safety of everyone. But, [current swimsuit issue editor] MJ Day has assured everyone that it is coming and it's going to be amazing!"

Don't worry. A bunch of really gorgeous women are emptying their swimwear drawers and answering Sports Illustrated's quarantine challenge to fill the void.

Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Icon Challenge

With everyone stuck inside, and prior to the global George Floyd protests, SI offered a challenge. Fans were asked to recreate their favorite shots of the publication's legendary past. Within two weeks, the #SwimsuitIconChallenge took social media by storm with thousands of people strutting their stuff.

Taking inspiration from famous swimsuit models like Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley, Kate Upton, Ashley Graham and Heidi Klum, women haven't held back. I'm sure a bunch of husbands and partners are doing their best Henri Cartier-Bresson behind the camera, too.

RELATED: Camille Kostek, Alex Morgan Grace 2019 SI Swimsuit Covers

Even 57-year-old Carol Alt, a supermodel who graced the 1982 cover, posed topless with only necklaces as "clothing" to recreate swimsuit covergirl Marisa Miller's famous pose.

Alt's submission is by far the challenge's most popular.

Carol Alt Poses Topless for SI Swimsuit Challenge

This year has certainly served up its fair share of difficult moments and tall tasks for our country to conquer. These swimsuit photos, my friends, definitely isn't one of them.

MORE: UFC Fighter Gets Naked for Quarantine Photoshoot