Fla. Model In Skimpy Bikini Lands SI Swimsuit Edition Cover

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(Source: Sports Illustrated) 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover featuring model Kate Upton

(Source: Sports Illustrated) 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover featuring model Kate Upton

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NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) — The 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has hit newsstands, with model Kate Upton as its latest cover girl.

She’s a Florida girl who’s comfortable in a bikini and on this cover the 19-year-old is wearing a tiny red-and-brown, sparkle-covered string bikini with a view of the waters of Australia behind her.

The cover was unveiled Monday on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS.

“That was one of the first photos from the first shoot,” she said in a telephone interview before the big reveal. “It was my favorite swimsuit. I felt sexy in it but confident.”

WEB VIDEO EXTRA: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Photo Shoot

Upton, 5 feet 10, was born in Michigan but raised in Florida. Her hometown is Melbourne, on the state’s east coast.

“In Florida, people walk around in their flip-flops, bikinis and jean shorts, so I’m very comfortable in a bathing suit,” she said.

The 2012 magazine cover is her second time appearing in the annual SI issue that’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for models. Last year, when Irina Shayk was on the cover, Upton was chosen as rookie of the year.

“I have had a great year,” she said. “For me, this is groundbreaking.”

A huge perk of the job as the official swimsuit model is visiting lovely beaches, including shoots for the magazine in Sydney and Cairns, Australia, and Apalachicola, Fla.

She said living a healthy lifestyle for her includes working out regularly with a personal trainer and watching what she eats. But there’s no special diet to prepare for a bikini shoot, she said, and she admits to splurging on the occasional ice cream or plate of fries.

Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Carol Alt, Kathy Ireland, Tyra Banks are among the celebrity models who previously had this gig. Upton said, “I am so glad to be in their company.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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