Florida-native Carolyn Murphy is the first U.S. model to be picked for the cover of the famous issue since 1999

By Marla Lehner
Updated February 15, 2005 02:00 PM

Florida-native Carolyn Murphy will be the first American to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in six years, the magazine has announced.

The 31-year-old high fashion model from Panama City, Fla., whose cover shot hits newsstands Tuesday, is best known for taking over for British beauty Elizabeth Hurley as the face of Est e Lauder in 2001.

But the blue-eyed blond Murphy is more than just a pretty face. She’s the mother of a 4-year-old daughter, Dylan (from a previous marriage,) and she’s the girlfriend of Incubus singer Brandon Boyd. In fact, Murphy says she had to keep her covergirl status a secret from her beau when the pair attended the Grammys last weekend. (Incubus lost to Velvet Revolver for best hard rock performance.)

Prior to Murphy’s appearance, the last U.S. citizen to nab the cover of SI’s issue was Rebecca Romijn, who posed for it in 1999.

Murphy, who made her swimsuit issue debut last year, said at the time that her career was no longer such a high priority after the birth of her child. “Being in the world of fashion you have to be very self-absorbed, and you are surrounded by people who are very self-absorbed,” she told the magazine. “Having a child keeps you very grounded. So when I decided to have a child, I made it clear to the people I work with that my job was no longer my priority.”

But being a mom hasn’t hindered the beauty’s career. In fact, it may have helped. Murphy tells USA Today that she never imagined she’d make it onto Sports Illustrated’s cover because she considered herself too skinny. “But after I had my daughter, I had hips, I had boobs,” she tells the newspaper.

Others who posed for the latest swimsuit issue include tennis star Venus Williams, Olympians Jennie Finch and Amanda Beard and 19-year-old Alicia Hall, winner of NBC’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search series.