Three days after its 2013 Swimsuit Issue cover image leaked online and one day before they planned to unveil it to the world, Sports Illustrated is investigating where the breach occurred that allowed the blog Fashion Copious and other websites to post the alluring image of Kate Upton — SI’s defending swimsuit champ — modeling in Antarctica.
“Instantly, we began to assess the situation and its implications,” says a spokesperson for SI, which like Entertainment Weekly, is a Time Inc. publication. “We are looking into all of our options.”
Of course, the damage is already done — though damage might be the wrong word. In fact, the premature disclosure may have inadvertently boosted this year’s edition of the iconic issue. “The enthusiasm and intrigue behind the leak has only added to the frenzy in anticipation for the swimsuit launch,” suggests SI’s spokesperson.
As such, SI has no plans to alter its roll-out plans, with a bevy of beauties visiting David Letterman tonight to read the Top-10 List. The no-longer secret cover image will also be displayed, and Upton will return to Letterman’s stage tomorrow night — following appearances tomorrow morning on Today and other outlets — for another sit-down interview.
If the reveal of Upton as a repeat cover-girl has diminished some of the suspense, there’s still bound to be plenty of interest from the magazine’s core demo: Men With Eyes. And there’s certainly some curiosity about the issue’s inclusion of Katherine Webb, the girlfriend of Alabama’s quarterback who became famous overnight when ABC broadcaster Brent Musburger paid her special attention during the national championship game in January. [UPDATE: Click here, Brent. Ms. Webb’s photos are already online.]