Why SI Swimsuit Has Buzz Despite Leak—Kate Upton

Sports Illustrated 2013 Swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton.
Source: Sports Illustrated

It is an annual rite of passage for "sports" fans—the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

But in this era of Twitter, smartphones and instantaneous publishing, it seems nothing can be done in a vacuum.

It's even hit the SI Swimsuit issue, which saw its cover photo leaked early.

The negative is that it won't get it's high-profile reveal on the "Late Show" with David Letterman. The positive is that the cover girl is Kate Upton.

She will still be on the show, and in the end, the early exposure probably doesn't matter. In fact, it may actually help with the buzz ... and the sales.


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Upton is on the cover, and she's different.

Appearing for the second time in a row—the first time that's happened since Tyra Banks in the mid-90s—her appeal is even greater in 2013.

Some think she has supermodel status already.

And when it comes to Upton, the numbers don't lie.

She is fresh off appearing in a Super Bowl ad with Mercedes— two of the official ads have a combined 14-million views on YouTube.

Her Twitter following has gone from about 20,000 two years ago and 120,000 a year ago, according to the New York Times, to over 700,000 in February, 2013.

That proves her popularity, but what about her transcendancy?

Upton is already moving beyond swimsuits, appearing in fashion magazines, commercials and even movies. She's linked romantically to Justin Verlander, one of the best pitchers in pro baseball.

And she's only 20 years old.

So, even if the cover itself was leaked—and sources tell CNBC it was NOT planned—it doesn't seem like it will diminish interest in her ... and the cover.

—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman