Sports Illustrated said it’s looking into how the coveted image of its annual Swimsuit Issue was leaked before it was to be revealed on Late Night With David Letterman Monday and hit newsstands Tuesday.
In an apparent first for the magazine’s franchise special issue, and in another example of the fast-moving Web scooping traditional media, the four-year-old blog Fashion Copious leaked the cover image of Kate Upton.
“We are investigating it,” a rep for the Time Inc. magazine said.
As the magazine’s biggest franchise of the year, the Swimsuit Issue involves a heavily choreographed rollout across events, print, digital and video platforms. Last year’s Swimsuit Issue broke digital records, with an SI.com Swimsuit video getting 34.5 million views the week the cover was revealed and a free mobile app getting 482,000 downloads in its first week.
This year, SI partnered with the Travel Channel on a behind-the-scenes shoot that took the magazine to all seven continents, including Antarctica, set to air Sunday, Feb. 17.
Upton, who graced last year’s Swimsuit Issue, joins a long line of other top models who have made repeat appearances including Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Kathy Ireland. Elle McPherson holds the record for most appearances, landing on the cover five times from 1986 to 2006.
Despite all the hype that surrounds the Swimsuit cover reveal, the rep batted away any suggestion that the leak will steal the magazine's thunder: “This is a weeklong launch of the franchise, with star-studded parties and events. If anything, it just elongates the launch.”