Women Over 50 Are Rocking Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition! What They’ve Said About Modeling

Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition has dominated magazine racks for decades, and women over 50 are gracing the covers and pages each and every year. 2024’s rendition of the magazine started with a bang when Gayle King posed for Sports Illustrated's 60th anniversary cover, reminiscing about the experience during her segment of CBS Mornings.

King joins Kathy Jacobs, Christie Brinkley, Martha Stewart, and more women over 50 who have diversified the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Keep reading to learn more about the incredible A-listers, what they’ve said about their modeling experience, and more.

Kathy Jacobs became Sports Illustrated’s oldest rookie at the age of 57

Model Kathy Jacobs hit the industry with a bang when she became a Sports Illustrated swimsuit rookie at the age of 57. Jacobs graced the magazine in 2021, walked the Sports Illustrated swimsuit runway show, and modeled alongside industry pros like Olivia Culpo and Kate Bock.

Jacobs’ path to stardom was not a typical one, as she was discovered thanks to a model search conducted as part of the 2020 swimsuit edition. When she was delivered the good news, Jacobs was sweeping floors at a Drybar salon while pursuing modeling gigs on the side.

“A year ago, I had a minimum-wage job sweeping the floor at a beauty salon,” Jacobs told Woman’s World in 2020, adding that she learned “to never give up.” “I was losing hope, but I took pictures and sent them out one last time — and suddenly, I was getting modeling and acting jobs!”

Throughout her rise to fame, Jacobs continued to be herself, telling Woman’s World that she preferred to “show the world” who she really was.

“Why does society think you need to hide when you turn 50? It’s crazy!” she said. “But it’s all because we have this concept of how people should be at certain ages. I want to inspire people — and myself — to destroy that box. Whatever works for you is perfect: Beauty and joy have no age limit!”

Martha Stewart was a Sports Illustrated cover star at 81

The home and lifestyle star made history in 2023 by becoming Sports Illustrated’s oldest cover star, and Martha Stewart proved she had plenty more to give in 2024, gracing the cover once again for the magazine’s trilogy shoot for the 60th anniversary.

Dubbed the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit legends edition, Stewart joined iconic models such as Chrissy Teigen, Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, and Winnie Harlow for the shoot, solidifying herself as a bonafide star.

"A legend, to me, means something that's happened before and has gained an importance and lives on," Stewart said as part of the photoshoot, as she posed alongside A-listers who made history themselves within the industry.

Of course, Stewart came to the 2024 edition as a seasoned pro, given that she’d been on the cover the previous year. She opened up about being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit star in an interview with the magazine, revealing that while she doesn’t ponder her age, she recognized the importance of her cover.

"When I heard that I was going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, I thought, 'Oh, that’s pretty good, I’m going to be the oldest person I think ever on a cover of Sports Illustrated,'" Stewart recalled. "And I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic."

She continued, “Age is not the determining factor in terms of friendship or in terms of success, but what people do, how people think, how people act, that’s what’s important and not your age.”

Christie Brinkley returned to the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 70

Of all the models who have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition, Christie Brinkley is a seasoned professional. She made eight appearances within the issue between 1975 and 2004 – gracing the cover three times – and returned to the pages in 2017 at the age of 66. By 2024, Brinkley was back, joining fellow models and A-listers for the 60th anniversary edition.

“I am grateful beyond measure for my many happy adventures with @si_swimsuit,” Brinkley wrote on Instagram as the 2024 edition hit the shelves. “If someone came up to young permed sunburned me during my first photo shoot with the iconic magazine and whispered ‘they will still be inviting you to be in the picture at 70’, I would have laughed at them and called them crazy. But now I know that no one wants to become invisible because of our age, (or ethnicity, size, gender, or anything for that matter!) So thank you S.I. … you may just be 60, but you’re very smart for your age!”

Buy First for Women's latest print edition featuring Christie Brinkley, here!

Maye Musk made history as a Sports Illustrated model at 74 years old

In 2022, Maye Musk made history as the then-oldest Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover star at the age of 74 (dethroned by Martha Stewart the following year), and she returned once again to the cover in 2024 to pay tribute to the magazine’s legends. The mom to famous son Elon, Musk knew that her legendary cover shoot would help break down age barriers – she had already smashed records by becoming a CoverGirl spokesperson and a Dior ambassador at the age of 69.

“I’m very happy, especially because they decided that a 74-year-old should be on the cover,” Musk told the magazine in 2022, revealing that she tracked the public’s reaction as the edition came out. “On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, it’s all positive. Everybody’s excited. Women are feeling stronger and better about themselves.”

She continued, “As a dietician, I gave many lectures, and people would listen to me about changing their eating habits and running their own businesses. So I’m used to people coming to me for advice. But now it’s a whole different issue—now it’s getting older and feeling good.”

Musk went as far as sharing her best self-care tips, revealing that eating well, staying out of the sun and not smoking have been her go-to habits.

Gayle King was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 69

The CBS Mornings anchor was on the fence when she was approached by Sports Illustrated, but Gayle King took the plunge and became a cover star in 2024.

“It’s not a dummy cover? This is going to be on the newsstands? Oh my God! Oh my God!” King exclaimed on the air when she saw the cover for the first time, with model Kate Upton handing her a copy of the edition.

As she explained during the iconic photoshoot, King didn’t know if modeling for the magazine was something she wanted to do, but editor MJ Day explained that the 60th anniversary edition was all about women at the top of their professional game – it was a slam dunk for the successful news anchor.

“I didn’t want to look foolish or like I was trying too hard, but I did think it could be fun,” King said, revealing that instead of feeling pressured to “lose a rib” or “20 pounds,” she instead stuck to her normal workout routine and even ate a cheeseburger the day before her photoshoot.

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Remarking on why King was the perfect model for the cover, Day told The New York Times, “She’s a Black woman and she sits where she sits because she’s so passionate, smart and strong willed. She is a mature leader. Having a cover star who is not in the model universe is also a conversation we want to continue to host as a title. No one would imagine that she might want to do something like this, but the fact that she does and she’s proud of herself is important for women to see.”