You’re at the grocery store with two boxes of jimmies because Snowzilla 2016 is on it's way and there's not much else to do when there are two feet of snow outside your front door. Trying to make your way out as discretely as possible you speed-walk towards the only open cashier. Just as you’re on course for a quick payment and exit, a mother with three children and her enormously full cart cut straight into the aisle. You would ask her to jump ahead and pay quickly given your two items, but think twice given the fragility of the goods and the moment.
The only thing to keep your attention for the ten minutes while she her items are scanned and bagged is the magazine stand. Your eyes are drawn to the middle rotating rack, on which are the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, ESPN the Magazine Body Issue, and Women’s Health, among others. As you stare in awe at the pictured specimens, time is flying by. Before you know it the cashier, now free, says, “Did you find everything alright today, Sir?” You keep staring, now flipping through the pages searching for more photos of the woman on the cover. “Sir? Are you ready to check out?”
At this point it’s slightly embarrassing. You’ve got the two boxes of you-know-what, spellbound by the scantily clad models, and it’s clear there is but one thing on your mind: Ranking the 20 hottest sports magazine covers of all time. Well, maybe not quite, but that’s what we’re here to rank.
From the plethora of magazine covers we encountered in our search there is certainly a bounty of red-hot photos to choose from. If any covers were missed that absolutely belong in this top-20, feel free to join the discussion below. Everyone’s tastes are different, but few will be able to deny the allure of these covers.
21 Lexi Thompson - Golf Digest
There is a theme of sexy Golf Digest covers each May for their fitness issue, so we'll definitely have something to look forward to this May. At 6-feet tall, Lexi made the cover at age 20 last year and she is currently ranked #4 in the Women's World Golf Rankings. Having already earned $4.5 million in tournament winnings, Lexi leaves us much to live up to at such a young age. There is indeed little doubt, as the cover says, that Lexi out-drives 99% of us.
20 Ronday Rousey - ESPN the Magazine
Rousey has certainly made a name for herself in the past couple of years, knocking out numerous opponents within seconds. Her recent and surprising knockout loss to Holly Holm has increased support from fans new and old alike, who are hoping she will bounce back and re-conquer Women’s MMA. Additionally, her influence in the sphere of questioning feminine beauty norms has certainly gained her popularity. Ronda's cover here on a December 2015 issue of ESPN the Magazine certainly shows off an impressive figure.
19 Big Brother - Sassy For Skaters
Big Brother was one of the raddest and most controversial magazines, period, in the 1990s. With articles such as 'How to kill yourself' and 'Field Trip to Hustler' it quickly gained notoriety among media critics. No subject was taboo for the magazine producers and this cover is just a peek into the culture of the magazine. We don't know who the model is or what 1990s year or month it's from, but she's got a killer bod and is willing to unbutton her shorts and go topless for a skateboard magazine with a belly-button 'g' ring.
18 Lindsey Vonn - ESPN the Magazine
If you didn’t know any better, you would think this was a screen shot of Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct. Well, Lindsey certainly played us all for fools with this ESPN the Magazine cover while drawing the eyes of millions. In this November 2010 issue, several other athletes replicated scenes from films just like Lindsey did. If there is ever a Basic Instinct 2 we can call on her to fill in as a body double. The Olympic Slalom skier has had her fair share of magazine covers, so she knows what she's doing.
17 Jamie Anderson - ESPN Body Issue
Unless you're an avid winter sportsperson, you probably don't know a thing about Jamie Anderson. Well, she happens to be one of the winningest all-time Slopestyle Snowboarders the Winter X Games history. In 2007, at age 16, Jamie won Gold in the Winter X-Games Slopestyle after winning Bronze at age 15 the previous year. Her jubilant smile and radiance easily earn her a spot in our top 20.
16 Serena Williams - Sports Illustrated
Serena's cover is not only hot because it was a normal Sports Illustrated cover instead of a Swimsuit Issue, but because of her pose. She is throwing her leg over the arm of her throne while wearing something outrageously alluring... we won't guess what it's called. Not only that, but she's in that throne for being named The Sportsperson of the Year for 2015. After winning three of Tennis' four majors in 2015 and four straight dating back to 2014, the almighty Serena instills a seductive prowess few can resist.
15 CandiceMichelle , Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly - WWE 2006
Back in 2006, WWE released a holiday issue featuring these three bombshells one the cover for an early present. Candice, Michelle McCool, and Kelly Kelly all graced the cover holding nothing but towels. A locker room depiction, this is easily the hottest WWE magazine cover ever. What's better than "Hot! Soaked! and Sexy!" soap-dropping action?
14 Gina Carano - ESPN Body Issue
Former mixed martial artist Gina Carano has made a name for herself in Hollywood and continues to show off her form as a fitness model. Carano began training in Muay Thai and that style transferred into her MMA career, in which she won seven fights without a loss until her final career fight in 2009 for the Featherweight Championship. Carano was ranked in 2009 at #16 in Maxim's Hot 100. She appeared in Fast & Furious 6 as well as being nominated in the 2013 Critics Choice Awards for best actress in an action film for her performance in Haywire.
13 Alana Blanchard - Surfgirl
Alana Blanchard, 25, is one of those that few of us have heard of, but wouldn't mind getting to know a bit better as displayed in this May 2013 cover. A professional surfer and winner of the Women's Pipeline Championships in Hawaii, among several other surfing victories, Alana has been around the surfing game since she can remember. Born on the island of Kauai, surrounded by the waves, there was little else to do. By age 15, she was winning surfing events and by our estimation the winning hasn't stopped.
12 Cobie Smulders - Women's Health
Apparently the How I Met Your Mother co-star “wasn’t trying to appear sexy” as she said in her feature interview for the workout magazine. To be fair, many How I Met Your Mother viewers probably didn’t find her sexy in the show. It appears this photo-shoot has changed that while raising awareness for something deserving of it - something far more important. Until opening up in May 2015, Cobie had a scary secret that she had not shared publicly. At age 25 in the middle of the show’s third season, Cobie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After multiple surgeries and treatments she is happy to be cancer-free and raising awareness. We're happy she's still with us.
11 Serena Williams - ESPN 2009
Fully deserving of a second spot on our top-20, Serena went fully nude for this ESPN Body Issue cover. At the time, it sent shockwaves through the nation as media outlets pretended to exude abnormally moral values, saying Serena's photo was setting a bad example for young players looking up to her. Well, Serena does what Serena wants and we don't mind a bit.
10 Elle Macpherson - 1986 Swimsuit Edition
It would be wrong not to include Elle in this countdown, as she is one of three models to ever make it on the cover of SI’s Swimsuit Edition for three consecutive years – the others being Christie Brinkley and Kate Upton (we'll get to Kate later). What’s even better is that this photo was taken just about 30 years ago, well before airbrushing technologies were around. Elle’s all-natural appeal earned her a grand total of five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition covers, though this one was by far the hottest.
9 Prince Fielder - ESPN Body Issue
Life is about taking curveballs and knowing what to do with them. Here's a curveball for you in the form of Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder. There is no denying that Prince and his hulkey-inked body causes a stir for any on-looker. Don't be afraid to stare for a few seconds, it's only natural. The most surprising thing about Prince is that his wife Chanel convinced him, with the help of a book, to go vegetarian several years ago. He says he feels great, and it shows.
7 Venus Williams - ESPN Body Issue 2014
Another curveball, perhaps this one a well-timed drop shot, shows us a side of Venus Williams very few have seen. Her younger and more championed sister, Serena, has been more marketable as well, given her winnings. However, this cover shows Venus' confidence and ability to relax in the nude despite having sand blow in her eyes under a hot desert sun. Venus' calm nerves have helped her win five Wimbledon singles titles and two Australian Opens.
6 Paulina Gretzky - Golf Digest 2014
Paulina's Golf Digest hot cover in 2014 caused bit of a stir among those in the golfing world who saw it as a turn in the wrong direction for a magazine representing an upper-class sport. All the same, the notoriety caused by the cover-photo may have ended up being a good thing for Golf Digest and the sport itself especially now that Tiger Woods can no longer attract the masses. We ought to to thank Paulina for helping to shake things up in the somewhat bland world of golf. Is she offering lessons?
5 Sydney Leroux - ESPN Body Issue 2013
The Canadian-born US National Women's soccer star shows off a very well-formed physique along with a few tattoos in this cover-shoot for ESPN the Magazine Body Issue. She seemed quite nervous yet proud of her body in the interview that went along with this 2013 shoot and apparently her mother was more excited about the shoot than Sydney. Surely her growth in popularity from this past year's Women's World Cup will have loosened her up a bit, so don't be surprised if we see more of Sydney in the coming months and years.
4 Kate Upton - Swimsuit Edition 2014
Kate was on the cover in 2012 and 2013 when she was conquering the world and television sets in her “Game of War” commercials. She was hotter than Derek Zoolander and Hansel combined - and maybe she still is. Then things seemed to cool off after her 2013 Antarctica cover when three other models shared the cover for the Swimsuit Edition in 2014. We were considering putting her 2013 photo here, but here is where fate turns: SI released an additional 2014 flip cover as a part of their 50th-Anniversary year, this time featuring Kate. Who knew? Well, we’re all the lucky ones. Sure, she is probably deserving of the #1 spot, but it would be a little too cliché.
3 Daniela Hantuchová - ESPN Body Issue 2012
At number three, Daniela might take you by surprise, but she and ESPN the Magazine combined for one heck of a cover shoot. There is something different about the Slovak tennis pro than in the rest of these covers. Long and wavy blond hair, bright blue eyes, a cheeky smile, no clothing - if it gets better than this in a non-nude photograph, folks, I beg you to please let us know.
2 Natalie Coughlin - ESPN Body Issue 2015
Natalie Coughlin, 12-time Olympic Medalist, certainly looks like she knows how to impress in the water. Here in her 2015 ESPN the Magazine Body Issue cover, Natalie's not wearing a swimsuit, a bikini, or anything for that matter. Just a layer of water to show her body's glistening contours and a sly look of provocation make this cover one to remember. It's hard to imagine that any magazine cover could top Natalie's.
1 Bar Refaeli - 2009 Swimsuit Edition
When life gives you bikinis, you make Bar Refaeli. Maybe that's not how the saying goes, but any prepubescent boy certainly noticed a change or two from within after seeing Bar in this Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from 2009. Even the Wolf of Wall Street (Leonardo DiCaprio) added Bar with her dimpled smile and lightly-freckled face to his list of supermodels. Born and raised in Israel, Refaeli's photo-shoot videos went sky-high along internet waves for good reason and by 2012 she was #1 on the Maxim Hot 100. Let's raise a glass to Bar who recently got married, and may we all shed a tear.