Kate Upton’s sub-zero degree photo shoot in a white parka (and not much else) for the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue definitely sizzled on camera — but left the model freezing cold.
"It was definitely the hardest shoot I've ever done," the curvy beauty told People. "The best as well – Antarctica is one of the most beautiful place I've ever been to. But I'm from Florida, so it was pretty painful."
The cover leaked a week before it was supposed to come out so Upton found out she made the cover via her fans on Twitter.
"It was an accomplishment just to get through the shoot," she told the magazine about the early reveal. "I didn't even think about the possibility of being the cover until after I thawed out a bit! But now it's like, wow — I actually went down there and was able to accomplish that. I'm part of history, and it's a great feeling."
Upton, the first model to have consecutive SI covers since Tyra Banks went back-to-back in the late nineties, also stopped by “Today” for an interview.
She recalled getting frostbite and how difficult it was to recover: “When I came back, I was like losing hearing and eyesight because my body was shutting down, it was working so hard to keep me warm.”
As NBC aired chilly behind-the-scenes footage of the bombshell posing on the icy landscape in a string bikini, host Matt Lauer inappropriately riffed, “There’s a reason they don’t shoot men’s swimsuit issues in Antarctica.”
He gave off a another creepy uncle vibe at the end of the interview. “62 million people will ‘read’ this issue of Sports Illustrated,” Lauer emphasized with air quotes.
Thanks, Matt, but hopefully readers won’t just gawk at the lovely swimsuit model and appreciate that Upton's shoot itself took years of intense planning and preparation.
Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day told People that because of the costs and the planning required to go to Antarctica, the shoot was three years in the making. Upton was the only model taken to the continent and Day and her crew didn't know if they'd get any usable photos out of their arctic shoot.
"It was difficult," Day said. "First of all, it's cold, even though we were there in summer. The windchill was sub-zero — the elements are really working against you."