Victoria's Secret model and YouTube starlet Kate Upton flashes a wild bikini on this week's cover as Sports Illustrated's much-awaited annual swimsuit babe. Upton, a 19-year-old Floridian, was named the top "rookie" model in last year's Swimsuit Issue by the mag. This time she poses on an Aussie beach in a red-and-brown teeny bikini that makes her feel "sexy but confident," she tells the AP. "In Florida, people walk around in their flip-flops, bikinis, and jean shorts, so I'm very comfortable in a bathing suit," says the 5-foot-11 model. She's a modern girl, who shot to fame thanks in large part to a YouTube video in which she struts her stuff, notes the New York Times.
She racked up 3 millions views on a YouTube video of her doing the "Dougie," a dance popularized by Cali Swag District, and has a 170,000-person Twitter following. The video caught the attention of a model scout, and the rest is bikini history. "Social media now creates its own reality,” says Wayne Sterling, publisher of industry site Models.com. “If you become a YouTube star among teenagers, you have even more recognizability than a TV star. Kate Upton is the perfect example of that." Click to read 10 things you probably didn't know about Kate Upton. (Read more Sports Illustrated stories.)