SI Swimsuit model Haley Kalil cries 'happy tears' after seeing her pics for 2020 issue: ‘That is not me’

She got emotional seeing her recent photos for the first time

Haley Kalil still can’t believe she’s a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.

The 27-year-old is part of the 2020 issue, which features Kate Bock, Olivia Culpo and Jasmine Sanders as this year’s cover girls.

On Tuesday, SI Swimsuit’s Instagram page uploaded a video of the former Miss Minnesota 2014 getting emotional seeing her recent photos for the first time.

“This year for me was a year where I just felt like I kind of knew what I was doing,” Kalil explained. “This has been a three-year journey for me. Last year was my rookie year. The year before that I was part of the model search. And I had no idea what I was doing.”

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“It was all a learning process,” she continued. “And this year I really had a moment where I felt like a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model. And that was such a freaking cool moment for me.”

According to SI, Kalil was photographed in Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands by Josie Clough.

When Kalil saw her photos for the first time online, she immediately burst into tears.

“That is not me,” she tearfully said. “I mean, it’s me.

“[But ] this is me,” she added, pointing at herself. “This awkward creature.”

Kalil stressed that despite being a co-model search winner with Camille Kostek, this was the first time where she truly felt like an SI pinup.

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“This picture, for me, was the moment where during that shoot… there was a beam of light coming down,” she recalled. “We were in a cave and it reminded me of the Elle Macpherson cover where she’s got the snorkeling gear. And it’s iconic. I have known that cover since I was little.

“Why am I such a wreck?" she continued. "I’m happy -- these are happy tears. Like when you’re younger and you’re growing up, you spent so much time just hating what you look like and who you are. It’s really cool to see yourself like this.”

Kalil graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a 4.0 GPA. She holds a Bachelor of Science in medical biology and psychology, as well as a minor in chemistry. Kalil, whose parents are engineers, was diving into the science world when Sports Illustrated Swimsuit launched an open casting in 2017. It was in 2018 when she was invited to model for the magazine as a model search contestant.

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While Kalil was already well-versed with the pageant world, the star told Fox News in 2019 that she prepared in the best way she knew how.

“I am a huge nerd, so before I shot for Sports Illustrated, I studied,” Kalil explained at the time. “I watched all of the best models. I watched Kate [Upton], I watch Chrissy [Teigen], I watched Heidi [Klum]. I watched all of these old videos to see how they moved their bodies and how they posed. That was my way of getting ready for the shoot because before you take a big test, you gotta study. So, I studied right before I shot my spread for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

Kalil also noted that it’s been an empowering experience to pose for a magazine where the team is primarily women.

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“When you go on set, it’s an entire group of women,” she shared. “They’re making sure that you feel good, you feel comfortable. They won’t put you in anything you don’t want to be put into. They don’t let you pose in a way that you don’t want to pose in. You really have the creative rights to whatever you’re making for Sports Illustrated, which in this industry is very rare.

“Usually a model doesn’t get to decide what they want, but for Sports Illustrated, it’s all about what you want, so that kind of helps your confidence because you’re in the driver’s seat,” Kalil continued. “You’re the only making the decisions. So it’s easy to be confident when you have these cheerleaders in front of you… And you get to decide what to do. It’s an amazing, empowering environment to be in.”