Kate Upton on Cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Kate Upton Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Facebook/SISwimsuit

American model Kate Upton has retained pride of place as the cover girl for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for the second consecutive year. The 20-year-old was photographed in Antarctica, wearing little apart from an unzipped and unbuttoned hooded jacket and a white bikini bottom.

The tag on the cover reads: "Kate Upton Goes Polar Bare ... and Then Sizzles in Body Paint." The photograph was originally leaked on the Internet, forcing the magazine to release the original version.

Now that the photograph is out there, Upton tweeted: "We can finally talk about Antarctica!!!!!@peterbutlerhair @MJ_Day @darciebaum.. Took us 2 months to thaw out."

Upton and nine other models from the issue will officially launch the magazine with an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman on 11 February.

According to Forbes, Upton is the ninth model to appear on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover twice. Elle Macpherson holds the record, gracing the cover five times. Supermodel Tyra Banks was the last back-to-back cover girl, in 1996 and 1997.

Upton, a native of Melbourne, Florida, made her first Sports Illustrated appearance in 2011, when she was named the magazine's Rookie of the Year. The following year, she appeared on the cover issue of the Swimsuit edition.

Upton has attracted her fair share of controversy. Last summer, a website called skinnygossip accused the young model of being fat. The Sun quoted the offending article: "Guess who?! Yes, it's the lovely Kate Upton, confidently lumbering up a runway like there's a buffet at the end of it. She looks thick, vulgar, almost pornographic - and she is a solid 30lbs too heavy for this outfit."

In response, Upton said: "I'm not going to starve just to be thin. I want to enjoy life and I can't if I'm not eating and miserable."