The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue hits stands today and promises to make waves with a barely-there $30 million bikini worn by Molly Sims. And now more people than ever can ogle the supermodels as the magazine shifts its focus to online with a new digital strategy.
The Sports Illustrated Web site features two full photo galleries of tennis great Maria Sharapova, as well as a complete index of all the featured models. It also offers iTunes Swimsuit videos and free model videos.
Started in 1964 to fill a gap between sports seasons, the swimsuit issue has become an American icon. According to the magazine's publisher, 4.8 million swimsuit issues will be sold -- more than any other Sports Illustrated issue. Experts predict that up to 60 million people will see the issue, which will make it the most widely read magazine edition in the world.
Eight models, including veterans Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn and Elle MacPherson, grace the cover this year. The veterans will be joined by Elsa Benitez, Yamila Diaz-Rahi, Carolyn Murphy, Daniela Pestova and Veronica Varekova. The magazine features a foldout spread of Sharapova.
After a long painful rehab following injuries she sustained from the tsunami, Petra Nemcova also poses for the issue. A portion of her income, including what she made for this issue, will go to the foundation she started for orphaned Thai children.