There's some great picks here, but did COED leave out the most obvious girl from their short list? For the last 12 months, I considered South African Victoria Secret bombshell Candice Swanepoel a shoe-in for the SI cover. As you probably know, she was literally in every corner of the Internet in 2010, just like Brooklyn was before her cover, and Bar before her. However, I'm beginning to backpedal on this pick. I believe there might be an undercurrent of Swanepoel ad nauseum, at least among the arbiters and publishers opting to post her pics week in and week out. To put it in economic terms, the market became supersaturated — if not downright flooded — with hot Swanepoel pics last year. There was rarely a week when at least one high-traffic website wouldn't post a gallery of her pictures. Although the strategic viral ploy meant fantastic advertising for Victoria's Secret, one could argue it devalued Swanepoel's exclusive image, perhaps causing her stock as a supermodel to dwindle slightly. Need further proof? The fact that we can compile a list of her 50 hottest photos in one single year should be enough of a testament to her oversaturation. Just think about it. Ten or 20 years ago, before the widespread proliferation of digital chick photos online, it would have been impossible to compile a similar list about one single girl. Even for supermodels like Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Heidi Klum, or Elle MacPherson in their prime, the massive quantity of photos simply wouldn't have existed, especially over the course of 12 months.
Another argument working against Swanepoel landing the Swimsuit Issue cover is her passport. If there was a year for a South African to grace the cover of the biggest sports magazine in the world, it was last year, when the country hosted the biggest sporting event in the world. In my opinion, it's a backtrack for a magazine that's going to remain on newsstands for the next seven months to celebrate her South African heritage during a year the country is out of the spotlight.
Going with this suggested theme of home country, the editors could opt for a symbolic choice by selecting a Brazilian across all of its editions, which would mean Dicker or Sarahyba. The country will host the World Cup in 2014 and will host its first Olympic Games in 2016. In terms of variety, it's been almost 33 years since the magazine opted for Brazilian flavor on the cover. Indeed, Maria Joao in 1978 was SI's sole Brazilian cover model. But, perhaps there's good reason for this. One source notes the 1978 issue infamously claims the most SI subscription cancellations and the most letters regarding a cover. Going Brazil has proven in the past to be bad business for the magazine. That could be enough to keep the editors away for the next two years, until people start caring about the World Cup again.
WAG status could also play a role in this equation. Last year Brooklyn Decker's cover reminded everyone that Andy Roddick is the luckiest sonuvab*tch in the world. In my opinion, the easy WAG choice from COED's short list is Irina Shayk. As far as super models are concerned, she's boy-band big. She's also dating one of the most popular athletes in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Two other girls of the five rattled off above have been connected to professional athletes: Hilary Rhoda was rumored to be dating Sean Avery and/or Mark Sanchez at one time and Julie Henderson was reportedly dating Aaron Rodgers. Both fall short to Shayk and Ronaldo.
There are also some cosmetic factors to be considered: Will it be a blonde, a brunette, or a red head? The last three issues have featured a blonde cover model (Brooklyn Decker, Bar Rafeli, and Marisa Miller). Brunette seems to be a lock in this category when playing the variety card. If — and a very big if — they were to opt for a redhead, we're skeptical that there's a ginger super model who could challenge Cintia Dicker.
My vote at the end of the day is for Irina Shayk. But, ultimately, all of this is just speculation and all of this reasoning could be for naught. It's not our call. We'll just have to wait to be surprised — in titillating 3D — in February. Who do you want to see on the cover?