NEW YORK – The much discussed Sports Illustrated (search) "cover jinx" has never applied to the Swimsuit Issue (search). While athletes often fall victim to bad luck and injuries after gracing the cover of the magazine, swimsuit models are catapulted to world fame.
Now models will have a chance for even greater celebrity in a new reality TV series, "Sport Illustrated's Fresh Faces Competition." On the show, to air on NBC, Sports Illustrated will launch a nationwide search for the "next great swimsuit supermodel," the winner of which will appear in the 2005 Swimsuit Issue.
The six-episode series will premiere in early 2005, leading up to the Feb. 15 Swimsuit Issue release, Sports Illustrated and NBC said Monday.
Selected from upcoming casting calls in cities across America, contestants will compete in various challenges of model mastery -- from dealing with the media to runway strutting. Sports Illustrated managing editor Terry McDonell says he's looking for undiscovered models who have a "combination of beauty, athleticism and personality."
After a photo shoot of the two finalists at an exotic locale, viewers will vote to decide the winning model. Aside from getting a spread in the Swimsuit Issue, the winning model will receive a million-dollar modeling contract from NEXT Model Management.
This is the second "Fresh Faces" search for Sports Illustrated. Michelle Lombardo, who won the first, untelevised competition, will appear in the new TV series.