The rapper joins Naomi Osaka and Leyna Bloom, the magazine's first transgender model, for the 2021 issue covers.

By Andrea Towers
July 19, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT
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Megan Thee Stallion is making history and having a pretty good hot girl summer. On the heels of last month's multiple BET awards for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, Video of the Year, and Best Collaboration, the three-time Grammy-winning rapper has landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2021 Swimsuit issue.

SI Swim cover
Megan Thee Stallion on the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit" cover.
| Credit: James Macari/Sports Illustrated

"When I got the call that they wanted me on the cover, I was like, 'Wha—? Me?' And to be the first female rapper on the swim cover makes it extra special. It feels amazing!" Megan told People in an exclusive interview.

She joins two other cover models who are also receiving honors in the 2021 issue: tennis champion Naomi Osaka and model and actress Leyna Bloom, who's making history herself as the first transgender cover star.

SI Swim cover
Leyna Bloom on the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit" cover.
| Credit: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

"If there's one thing that our cover models have in common, it's that they don't have one thing in common. They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms," MJ Day, Editor in Chief of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, said in a statement.

"Leyna Bloom makes history as the first transgender cover model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's history, and the first trans person of color to appear on our pages, solidifying the fact that the more diverse and inclusive a community, the stronger it becomes," Day continued. "We celebrate Naomi for her passion, strength and power geared towards consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice and mental health. As for Megan Thee Stallion, she is a magnetic powerhouse taking the world by storm. Together these women represent three of the most powerful voices of today."

Megan credited her mentor Beyoncé for helping her realize her dreams, telling People "I was so surprised when she did the cover, because I had only ever seen models before. I think she was the first musician to ever be on the cover."

She also told People that her earliest memory was seeing Tyra Banks appear on a cover of the magazine in 1997, making history as the first Black model to appear solo.

"I remember thinking, 'Wow, this girl looks like me!' Here is this stunning Black woman owning her curves and it made a big impact. It made me think, maybe I can be on the cover of SI Swim one day," she said. "And guess what — I am!"

SI Swim cover
Naomi Osaka on the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit" cover.
| Credit: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

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