Not one but three women will be gracing the cover of the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, each with a very different body type.
E! News has learned three separate covers will be issued that each feature a solo shot of either MMA star Ronda Rousey, 29, or models Ashley Graham, 28, and Hailey Clauson, 20.
“It’s a nod to female empowerment,” a source told E! News.
The annual edition with photos will officially be revealed later tonight on TNT after the NBA Slam Dunk Contest airs.
Rousey is one of several models in the issue who does not wear a swimsuit, but rather body paint, a tactic used before, appearing as though she is wearing a one-piece, colorful, printed swimsuit while sitting on the sand with her knees bended.
She and the magazine had teased her racy photo shoot last month. Rousey, who is on a hiatus from fighting after losing her the Women’s Bantamweight championship title at UFC 193 to Holly Holm in November, made her debut in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue last year.
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Clauson appears topless, sitting in the ocean while wearing string green printed bikini bottoms.
Clauson, a high fashion model, had appeared in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2015, wearing body paint.
Graham, a curvy model who hates being labelled “plus-size,” is one of the magazine’s “rookies” this year. She appears on the cover wearing a skimpy purple and yellow string bikini and posing in shallow waves.
Graham had appeared in last year’s edition in an ad for a swimwear company.
“I’ve got plenty of friends [of all sizes] and different shapes and everything,” she recently told E! News. “And I don’t want any of them to feel like they aren’t ‘real women.'”
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In addition to her official Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition photo shoot, Graham also appears in another swimwear ad inside the magazine this year, as does 56-year-old Nicole Griffin, the oldest model to be featured in the annual edition.
Gigi Hadid, 20, who made her debut in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2014, also appears in the 2016 edition.
TMZ was first to reveal the cover girls.
(Originally published Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 at 5:36 p.m. PST)
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