Presenting Kate Upton, Sports Illustrated‘s 2012 Swimsuit Cover Model

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Walter Iooss Jr. / Sports Illustrated

Kate Upton was last year’s Rookie of the Year, as named by the magazine. But this year, the 19-year-old model has graduated to team-captain status as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model. Upton, who originally hails from Melbourne, Fla., graces the 2012 cover, an honor she shares with other supermodels including Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and Elle Macpherson.

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The photo splayed on the front was shot in Sydney, Australia, but the photo shoot took all 17 of this year’s swimsuit models (and the Sports Illustrated photographers) to five different countries, from Zambia to the Florida’s Gulf Coast. Our friends at SI (which, like TIME, is a part of Time Inc.) have the roughest jobs.

Here are five fast facts about Kate Upton:

  • Upton has been a model since 2008, when she was discovered in Miami.
  • She has appeared in modeling campaigns for clothing lines Garage and Guess, swimsuit line Beach Bunny, and cut a commercial for beverage company Sobe in 2011.
  • Upton was, in the past, been romantically linked to New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.
  • Her uncle is Fred Upton, a Republican congressman representing Michigan’s sixth district, which includes Upton’s birthplace of St. Joseph, Mich.
  • She was an avid horseback rider and turned down modeling at the age of 12 to continue her involvement in the American Paint Horse Association.

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At SI.com/swimsuit, for the first time ever, readers can vote for 2012’s Rookie of the Year. Who knows, she might even become next year’s cover model.

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