Jimmy Kimmel had the first interview with Upton after making the announcement during the broadcast.
Upton, 24, joined the host on the couch to thunderous applause. Kimmel pointed out that this is her third Sports Illustrated cover, but that Elle Macpherson holds the record with five.
Upton revealed that she didn’t find out she was on the cover until Monday.
Kimmel showed Upton some gag covers of the issue, including one of Upton buried in sand.
The actual cover was presented in a projection on the Empire State Building in New York City, and then Kimmel revealed that Sports Illustrated is issuing three collector’s covers, with an especially provocative cover featuring Upton in what Kimmel referred to as “a hammock that got torn to bits.”
The announcement kicks off a week of festivities culminating in Vibes by Swimsuit, a music, food and culture festival taking place in Houston on Feb. 17 and 18.