James Macari for Sports Illustrated
By now, you’ve seen the super-sexy 50th Anniversary cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue — with three times the heat, brought to you by cover models (from left) Nina Agdal (in Beach Bunny), Lily Aldridge (in Basta Surf) and Chrissy Teigen (wearing Bettinis). Shot in the Cook Islands by James Macari, the girls look just as enthusiastic as they were when caught up with them before the big cover reveal on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday.
Below, check out our chat with Aldridge and Teigen (Agdal couldn’t make it, but tells PEOPLE, “I’m speechless … It was my goal. I couldn’t be happier to be on this year’s cover. Absolutely amazing!”). And be sure to check out our sneak peeks at the other models inside, from Hannah Davis’s “Jersey Strong” shoot to the original bikini babe, Barbie.
What was your first reaction when you heard you were on the cover?
Chrissy: I started crying. But it was a weird shaking, trembling because … I didn’t believe it. Maybe because it’s airing on Kimmel and he likes to prank people. I was like, ‘This is the meanest prank of all time.’
Lily: I was so excited when I got the call to do Sports Illustrated, and then .. I was shooting in the Cook Islands with these incredible girls. I felt so lucky that I got the best shoot … it was the perfect introduction to Sports Illustrated. And then to get the cover! It’s so crazy and such an honor.
Are you excited about sharing the cover? Does it make it more special?
Chrissy: It does feel extra special. I’m just really excited to get to run around with them for the next month or whatever. People say that and don’t mean it but I really love them … We’re literally tied together forever because of this. I hope you know that.
Lily: You’re stuck with me.
Who did you call first and how did they react?
Lily: We both called our husbands.
Chrissy: Before I left, John [Legend] said, ‘Don’t trick me. Don’t say, Babe, I didn’t get it and [then say] I got it! Just be happy and just say it!’ So I just called him, and through tears, [said] ‘I got it.’ And that was it.
Lily: My husband [rocker Caleb Followill] is very proud. He’s very excited. I don’t think there is a man in the world that wouldn’t be super-stoked their wife ends up as the Sports Illustrated cover model.
What are your plans for the cover? Are you going to frame it or what?
Chrissy: Oh my God, I’m going to put it on a T-shirt! Are you kidding me?!
Lily: I’m going to frame it all over my house!
Chrissy: I’m to have it drawn and it’s going to be in like a different part of the house.
Lily: I’m going to tattoo it on my back. [Laughs]
What was your pre-shoot workout and diet routine? Did you do anything differently?
Chrissy: I love to eat and I love to cook. For like two weeks before I was like, ‘Okay, time to go low carb and attempt to work out.’ That’s the nice thing about Sports Illustrated though, is that they want a healthy woman. If anything they’re like, ‘Um, it’s lunchtime. Eat this food.’ It’s great.
Lily: I do Ballet Beautiful and I was actually Skypeing with her from the Cook Islands. I love my trainer. I love working out. It makes me feel healthy and happy.
And looking back over the years, who’s your SI swimsuit model legend? Who inspired you the most?
Chrissy: For me, Heidi [Klum]. Heidi has the type of career that I love. I mean she gets to do so much and she’s done so much with her cover, which is fantastic. And I love what Petra [Nemcova] does charity wise. Combining the two would just be like, I feel, an epic human. They are both so wonderful too.
Lily: That’s the thing about Sports Illustrated. They really choose incredible women to represent the brand. All of the girls that get to get the cover are so amazing in some way and do great work. Truly to follow in all of these women’s footsteps is insane. Christie [Brinkley] is still the most stunning woman I’ve ever seen in my life.
–Alex Apatoff, reporting by Michelle Ward