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Kate Upton’s Sports Illustrated Cover Coup: A Lesson in Viral

Move over Tyra and Heidi: the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition has leaked online and cover girl Kate Upton is all smiles.

Forgoing the traditional path to model superstardom, the curvaceous 19-year-old landed on everyone’s radar after a video she posted on YouTube went viral. In it, Upton is seen doing the “Dougie” at a Los Angeles Clippers game—a dance popularized by hip-hop group Cali Swag District.

A New York Times article exploring Upton’s swift rise via social media—which is becoming more of a driving force behind movies, music, and other cultural endeavors—notes that “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.”

Maybe that’s why SI moved Upton from the inside pages to the cover. If that’s the route they’re going, we can’t wait for the Star Wars kid to be featured.