If you could pick any job, what would your dream job be? Now let’s take down that list and scrape away all of the jobs that involve you becoming a professional athlete. If you are a part of the majority of the male population on earth, there is a good chance that one of the remaining options on your list is: “become Hugh Hefner.”
There is no shame in this. Every guy out there at some point wished he could be Hef. This is a man who became the paramount example of someone who made a living working with beautiful women. Aside from that, all you need to do is take a look at his unbelievable list of girlfriends. Any man who enjoys the company women will agree that Hef is one of the luckiest bastards ever to live. Now, while he had the opportunity to live and interact with supermodels and actresses and so on, there is one particular profession that has consistently been featured as one of the most popular choices among readers of his magazine. Because when we are talking about Playboy, we can never leave out professional athletes from the discussion of the highest profile magazines Hef ever put on the stands.
One big reason behind it is that more than just the beautiful woman on the cover, readers and sports fans also see the talented athlete behind the cover. And, in honor of these beautiful and talented athletes, we have separated a list with 15 female athletes you forgot posed for Hugh Hefner.
15 Mary Sauer
Mary Sauer might not be one of the most recognizable names on this list, but she was an important figure in the history of American track and field. Just in 2001, she became the third American woman ever to break the 15-foot barrier in a pole vault competition.
She almost even made it to the 2000 Olympics, but even though she came incredibly close to qualifying for the games at the Olympic Trials, she ended up not getting a spot on the US Olympic team. Might we add that the woman who won those Olympic Trials, Stacy Dragila, went on to win the gold medal in Sydney.
Despite not making the Olympic competition, Sauer graced the American public with the whole extent of her beauty in 2004 when she posed for Playboy.
14 Haley Cope
From the track to the pool, the 14th place on our list goes to American swimmer Haley Cope. Unlike our previous entry, Cope managed to get herself a place in the Summer Olympic Games. Not only that, she came out of the 2004 Summer Olympics with a silver medal in the 4 x 100m medley relay.
Still, we have a hunch that even though an Olympic medal is a feat somebody can enjoy for the rest of their life, we don’t think that is the accomplishment Cope is most proud about. And that is because she once held the world record in the 50m backstroke.
While their major results were different, there is something that Haley Cope has in common with Mary Sauer. The two of them posed for Playboy in 2004.
13 Katie Vermeulen
More than a respected professional athlete, Katie Vermeulen deserves a place on this list for how she defend athletes who decided to take part in nude photo shoots for magazines. She was particularly outspoken about the issue when she posed for Playboy back in 2004.
"This thing is done to celebrate women and women at the Olympics, and it's not about boobs or butts," Vermeulen said. "It's about strength and beauty and women who are strong and forceful, women who are posing to represent their strength and courage in their sport.
"So to me, it's much more than just posing for a magazine showing your body. It's not just an expression of what we do, but who we are."
The sad story is that even though she took part in the photo shoot, she did not make it to the summer Olympic Games.
12 Maria Kanellis
The first professional wrestler to appear on our list, we think that perhaps not all of you have forgotten the fact that Maria Kanellis posed for Playboy in 2008.
The cover girl for Hef’s April 2008 magazine sure had the star power to sell a lot of copies. Kanellis is a former TNA Knockouts Champion, was ranked one of the top 50 female wrestlers by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2008, and holds the 2009 Slammy Award for Diva of the Year. She also has a pretty long resume when it comes to film and television appearances. For example, Kanellis appeared on TV shows like Project Runway, Family Feud, and Celebrity Apprentice. On the big screen, she performed in movies like Army of the Damned, Mother Hen, and The Opposite Sex.
11 Amy Acuff
The odds are pretty high that no other woman who ever appeared on a Playboy cover could jump higher than this Texas-born Olympian. Amy Acuff was one of the most successful female high jumpers in US history. At the junior level, she was simply a beast. In 1993 Acuff won the gold medal in the Pan-American Jr. Championships and the bronze a year later in the World Jr. Championships. When she reached the biggest stage of the Olympic Games at her prime in 2004, she came ridiculously close to a medal as she finished in fourth place.
But the fun fact we would like to tell you about this woman is that her personal best was a 6’7” jump in 2003. That is a clean leap over a guy the size of Draymond Green.
Do we really need to explain who Sable is? A former WWE Women’s Champion, a two-time Slammy Award winner, and one of the most fun to watch wrestlers of all time. That seems like a pretty succinct and clear explanation of who this blonde bombshell is.
More than awards and belts, in April 1999 she became the first WWE Diva to pose nude for Playboy. After that pioneering venture, which turned out to be an incredibly profitable one since it became one of the highest selling Playboy issues of all time, Sable returned to the magazine on two other occasions. She even became the first woman in history to feature in two Playboy covers the same year as she appeared again in 1999 in the September issue.
And you know what the funny part is? The fact that even though she is nearing 50, we would not complain if Sable returned for a fourth appearance.
9 Rebekka Armstrong
We talk about how Hef is a lucky guy and has all these beautiful girlfriends as well as he got to interact with some of the beautiful women who posed for Playboy magazine, but what some people might fail to mention every once in a while is that he is actually a pretty good guy.
One perfect instance to talk about that fact is that he supposedly assisted former bodybuilder Rebekka Armstrong financially on her AIDS-awareness campaign. A little background on this is that Armstrong was a famous American bodybuilder and got a chance to be the cover woman for the September 1986 issue of Playboy. Years later, she came out to the world saying she was diagnosed with AIDS and became one of the faces of the movement promoting awareness to the illness.
8 Amanda Beard
How awesome would it be to go back to your high school class saying that you competed in the Summer Olympic Games? Well, that was an experience that 14-year-old Amanda Beard had after she first appeared in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. This legendary American swimmer would go on to compete in three more Olympic Games during her career and win two gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze throughout her four appearances.
The appeal as an Olympic athlete led to a fairly successful modeling career that culminated in an appearance in the July 2007 issue of Playboy Magazine. But the most surprising thing to note after we mentioned her accolades and just a bit about her career, is that even though she participated in four Summer Olympics, Beard is still only 35 years old.
7 Romy Tarangul
The first German Olympian to appear on our list, judoka Romy Tarangul competed on the biggest stage on two occasions. The first time she got to fight in an Olympic arena, Tarangul ended up finishing with the ninth overall place after winning her first match and then losing her second bout in the round of 16. Her second Olympic stint came in London 2012, where she also won her first round fight but was eliminated in the quarterfinal round.
Still, it was in the same year as her first Olympic appearance that Tarangul took the plunge and posed nude for the German edition of Playboy in August of that year.
Her best results in judo were a bronze medal in the World Championships back in 2009 as well as a silver medal in the 2008 European Championships and another bronze in the 2012 European Championships.
6 Maria Butyrskaya
If there is one sport that can blend together beauty and athletic ability almost to a fault, it is figure skating. Being good-looking is very well a part of this sport. Seriously, just go to YouTube and look for a figure skating competition and you can probably count on your fingers how many people there could not be models if they tried.
Few, however, were ever as beautiful as the three-time European champion and one-time world champion Russian figure skater, Maria Butyrskaya. She is as gorgeous as they come, as her husband, hockey player Vadim Khomitsky, who is 10 years younger than her, would most likely agree. She shared that beauty with the world when she appeared on the cover of Playboy in November 1998.
5 Nicole Reinhardt
Canoeing is not the most popular sport in the world, but if more people knew that there are women like Nicole Reinhardt competing in this sport, the number of competitors would undoubtedly rise. This German sprint canoer got very used to coming out in first place whenever she entered an international competition. Are there many other athletes who can say that they have won eight World Championship gold medals? How about five World Championship silver medals? And how about one Olympic gold medal? Yeah, Nicole Reinhardt did very well in her sport and got the fame to go along with it in her homeland.
For our intents and purposes, what really matters here is that this canoeing phenom decided to show her assets in the German edition of Playboy back in August 2008.
4 Ineta Radevica
One of the main things Latvia is well known for is the ridiculous amount of good-looking people who come from there. Just Google “Latvian athletes,” it will blow your mind. One thing that will also happen when you make that Google search, which we know you will, is that this woman’s face will most likely pop up. And that is because the beauty of this Latvian long jumper is tough to deny.
People were already going to be impressed at how gorgeous Ineta Radevica was when she competed at the 2004 Olympic Games. But, in one hell of a marketing play, Radevica posed for an issue of Playboy just before the 2004 Summer Olympics. The result was that her popularity skyrocketed going into the competition. And let us add that it was very well deserved popularity. Unfortunately, however, she didn’t win a medal at the games.
3 Ashley Harkleroad
This list would hardly be complete if we left out the first ever professional tennis player to pose for Playboy. It was after the 2008 French Open that the few tennis fans, who watched the sport more for the beauty of the women playing the games than for the beauty of the actual game, got the good news they had been hoping since they first started following tennis. Ashley Harkleroad became the first tennis player to appear in the Playboy Magazine in August 2008.
While she made history outside of the tennis court, her on the court accolades don’t really get close to the superstars we are used to talking about like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Harkleroad’s highest ranking in tennis was a number 39 spot in the world, which by no means is a small feat. But even after a 12-year long career, her biggest accomplishment was a Wimbledon Junior Doubles Championship back in 2001.
2 Ashley Massaro
Do you remember that the WWE had a Playboy “Bunnymania” Lumberjill Match? Yeah, that happened at Wrestlemania XXIV, and it was one hell of a treat. In that event, Ashley Massaro was replacing Candice Michelle and teamed up with Marie in a legendary match that they lost to Beth Phoenix and Melina. There was some interference, but that match sure is worth watching. But back to the point, not only she participated in that “Bunnymania,” but Massaro also appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in April 2007.
Ten years later, this mother of one still seems to look as good as she did back then. Unfortunately for wrestling fans, she retired in 2008 and has seldom appeared in the public eye since. Nevertheless, as we mentioned before regarding a couple of other ladies, we don’t think a lot of people would be against Massaro returning for another magazine shoot.
1 Torrie Wilson
Taking the number one spot on our list is the one and only Torrie Wilson. Hopefully, you all remember that this wrestling legend graced the cover of Playboy magazine back in May 2003. Nevertheless, in the off chance that you have forgotten, we feel that we have the duty to remind you of it.
Wilson’s first shoot with Playboy was a huge deal in the world of wrestling. First of all, is the obvious reason that fans finally got a chance to see Torrie at her best. But more than that, the magazine inspired one of the most amazing storylines in the WWE of the last decade. There was everything on it; the return of Sable, who played mind games with Torrie because of the Playboy shoot, there was a bikini contest between the two, and, of course, there was that legendary makeup kiss to mark the end of the feud.