After weeks of speculation, Sports Illustrated revealed that Russian model Irina Shayk will grace the cover of the popular magazine’s 2011 swimsuit edition.
“To be on the cover of Sports Illustrated is a dream come true,” Shayk told Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira on the TODAY show this morning.
“We Russians, you know, we know all the secrets, but I didn’t know I was landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and it was so surprising to me,” she added. “I was in shock; I was crying.”
Sexy Shayk, 25, has appeared in every Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition since 2007, but this is the first time the stunner has been featured on the cover. Shayk is also the first Russian to grace the cover of the highly-popular men’s magazine (hard to believe, huh?).
Hailing from the small Russian village of Yemanzhelinsk, Shayk first broke into modeling in 2004 and has modeled for Intimissimi, Lacoste, LaPerla, Beach Bunny, Guess, and Armani Exchange, among others. It was while working for Armani Exchange that Shayk met her current boyfriend, international football star Cristiano Ronaldo.
When asked about her relationship with the star athlete, Irina responded:
“You can ask, but I wouldn’t respond. We Russians, we like to keep secrets — you know, KGB, Russian spy!”
Shayk joins Christie Brinkley, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Rebecca Romijn in the ranks of Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girls. Other models in this year’s edition include last year’s cover girl, Brooklyn Decker, as well as Jessica White, Anne V (also Russian), Julie Henderson, and Hilary Rhoda.
Click here to see more pictures of Irina Shayk as well as other stunners in swimsuits.