On Wednesday, Hannah Davis reported to the offices of Sports Illustrated, where she’d been told she’d be doing an interview about the magazine’s upcoming swimsuit issue, for which she’d done a photo shoot.
What the 24-year-old St. Thomas native didn’t know was that they were about to announce she was the cover model for this year’s issue.
The moment is captured on a video on the Sports Illustrated website (See link below.) Davis is being interviewed by the SI reporter when another staffer brings in a copy of the cover to show her. She turns it to show Davis, who gasps. She hugs the interviewer and says, "Are you sure? Is it definitely printed already?"
She then called her family to break the news, which she had told them wasn’t likely. Her session had been shot by photographer Ben Watts at Blackberry Farm, a private resort in eastern Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains. The cover shot is usually of a model on a beach.
But according to the magazine’s assistant managing editor, MJ Day, "There’s no person, there’s no place. The best photo wins. Period."
Watt called the picture "perfection."
Sports Illustrated began the tradition of the swimsuit issue in 1964 to fill the slack period between sports seasons. While athletic seasons have expanded since then, and a variety of television networks now offer 24-7, year-round coverage – meaning there is no longer any "slack period" in the sports world – the swimsuit edition remains a staple each February, drawing tens of millions of dollars in advertising for the magazine.
It is also the unofficial arbiter of supermodel succession. Previous cover models have included Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks.
The daughter of Conn and Deborah Davis of St. Thomas, Hannah graduated from Antilles School. On the website models.com, she is quoted as saying the best part of growing up in the territory was "the friendly people, great weather and waking up to the sound of the waves on the beach."
Davis has played tennis since she was 8 years old, and was a member of the Virgin Islands volleyball team.
Davis had appeared in the magazine twice before – inside. She has also appeared on the covers of fashion magazines in Italy, France, South Africa and Mexico, and modelled for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria’s Secret and American Eagles Outfitters, among many others.
The 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue hits newsstands Monday. A new website will be launched and a whole week of festivities is planned in New York City and Nashville.