KATE UPTON is the latest Sports Illustrated cover model in the magazine’s 2012 Swimsuit Issue. And she definitely deserves it… just take a look at the cover and see for yourself:

kate upton sports illustrated 2012 cover

Kate, 19, previously appeared on the magazine in 2011 where she was named Rookie of the Year. Looks like this looker ain’t a rookie any longer…

kate upton sports illustrated 2012 photo shoot

In her tiny red-and-brown, sparkle-covered string bikini, Kate posed with a view of the Australian coast around her for the magazine cover, which was unveiled on the “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS Monday night.

“That was one of the first photos from the first shoot,”

Kate told Associated Press in a telephone interview before the big reveal.

“It was my favorite swimsuit. … I felt sexy in it but confident.”

Upton, who stands a voluptuous 5’10”, was born in Michigan, raised in Florida, and currently lives in 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.

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

Check out Kate Upton’s groundbreaking photos for last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue…

Photos By Walter Iooss Jr. For Sports Illustrated

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