The Time I Leaked The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover While Wearing Sweatpants

The original 2012 cover leak photo.

The original 2012 cover leak photo.

“Oh, nice, the swimsuit issue is out,” I thought to myself. I had to buy it like I do every year. It’s just what guys do. They buy Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues, they leave them on top of their toilets, and they wait until next year’s issue comes out.

When I got home from Walgreens, I tossed on some US NAVY sweatpants and started livin’ the mid-day couch life while surfin’ the interweb. Magazine hadn’t even made it out of the bag yet when a Letterman commercial came on.

“Tonight on Letterman: The unveiling of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue!”

“That’s retarded,” I thought. “The issue is already out.” Then I saw the commercial again. They were really pushing this shit.

I had to defer to the Google machine as to what the hell was going on. I typed in “2012 SI Cover”. No dice. I couldn’t figure it out. Kate Upton’s yabbos were throttling that bikini so I figured a bunch of Reddit nerds would be losing their shit over this. After about 10 minutes of confused research, I started to realize that the cover may not have been released yet.

I emailed Barstool Sports with the subject line, “Am I supposed to have this?” with an iPhone photo of the cover attached to it. I got a quick reply from someone with the simple question, “I don’t know, should you?” to which I responded, “Well I’m not seeing it anywhere else, so.”

We exchanged a few more emails before El Presidente (Dave Portnoy) posted it with the headline, “Rate Kate Upton’s SI Swimsuit Cover.” Shortly thereafter, he posted again about it with the headline, “We leaked the Sports Illustrated Cover and didn’t even know it!”, which, he totally fucking knew. I requested my name be included for internet fame purposes, but I think it was mainly to show that Portnoy actually got it from someone and didn’t just conjure it up himself.

Then I got a phone call from a 310 area code – Beverly Hills, California. I never, never answer random number phone calls. But this seemed weird. Beverly Hills probably calls Northern Michigan as much as Northern Michigan calls Beverly Hills, and for good reason. We aren’t swipin’ right on each other, that’s for sure.

I answer and immediately hear some fucking twerp say, “Is this some thing you do? Leak fake covers to make a name for yourself?”

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, stop the train. I don’t need this,” I replied. I didn’t need to be demeaned by some intern who got told to sniff out the case of the leaked SI cover.

“Alright alright, I’m sorry, I just wanted to make sure you were legit,” he said. “I’m calling from TMZ and we’re looking for more info. Can you send us some more photos of this, like with additional shots of Kate Upton and some articles so we can verify it’s legit?”

I tried to squeeze some cash out of him because 1. I don’t need to do this. 2. I don’t necessarily want my name out there having people think I’m some internet pervert who stalks Kate Upton. 3. I started realizing that this was much bigger than my Tuesday was planned for. 4. How the fuck did TMZ even get my phone number? (I’d say it was from El Pres at Barstool, but he genuinely doesn’t seem like the type to just do that. Still creeps me out.) Long story short, they refused to pay me because the cover was already out and it was being unveiled in a few hours (5pm tape time for Letterman) in the middle of Times Square anyway.

I forwarded the additional photos and that was that. TMZ didn’t contact me again and the only other time I tried contacting them was the night Paul Walker died when I drunk dialed them to see if the rumors were true.

I had about a 20 email exchange with El Pres at Barstool, because we were both getting hounded by various news outlets for more info on how some mid-20s dude from Northern Michigan blew up the internet with the unveiling of a secret that Sports Illustrated takes lengths to keep secret. We came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t really do anything outside of what we had already done, and that El Pres would send me a highly-coveted Purple Starfish Lacrosse Jersey that every “Stoolie” desired (some even paid as much as $200+ for one) for being a loyal follower and going to them first.

I got some phone calls from family friends who saw my name online (unfortunately), I watched Letterman, I laughed to myself, I went to sleep. What a weird fucking Tuesday.

The next morning, Sharareh Drury of E! News direct messaged me on Twitter asking me for an interview, which I did against my will. I thought it would be a fun experience despite the fact that I didn’t want to be the aforementioned bikini creep who stalks Kate Upton (which I don’t). I did the interview and tuned in to watch Giuliana Rancic talk about me.

Well, the interview never aired and the details were completely manipulated to make it sound like I was some hick who found it in a beat-up old gas station. Kate Upton never responded to my apology Tweet for tainting her moment in the spotlight. I also never got my Purple Starfish Jersey from Barstool Sports. And I never saw one dime when it came to leaking the cover. There’s just a couple E! News, NBC, TMZ, etc. articles out there that say I was the beginning of the weirdest cover unveiling in Sports Illustrated’s 48 year history.

But whatever. It’s an outrageous fucking story that has continually blown people’s minds when they hear it. And that’s enough for me.

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Will deFries (Twitter / Instagram) is a Senior Writer at Grandex and the world's foremost authority on Sunday Scaries (Twitter / Instagram). Email me at

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