Kate Upton
Kate Upton, 19, lands the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. Sports Illustrated

Gorgeous model Kate Upton (who is, by the way, all of only 19 years old) may have lost out to Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, in AskMen's list of the Top 99 Women for 2012. However, she will certainly win the attention of millions of people across the world, when this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition hits the stands.

You see... Upton will sizzle on the cover of the magazine, clad only in a sexy reddish-brown string bikini.

"I have had a great year. For me, this is groundbreaking," USA Today quoted the American model and actress as saying. Upton, who comes from Melbourne, Fl., also appeared in the 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated and was named the rookie model of the year. This year, Upton, along with 16 other models, was busy jet-setting around the world, being photographed in exotic locations like Zambia, the Republic of Seychelles and Panama.

"Every single girl we shoot has the opportunity to be on the cover, and it really comes down to who has the best picture, whoever has that really special, jaw-dropping photo ends up on the cover," Reuters quoted senior Sports Illustrated editor M.J. Daly as saying.

Meanwhile, the magazine, which will go on sale from Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day, anyone?), is the most widely-read of all the special editions of the magazine and has often been noted as having launched the careers of models and actresses... whether they were featured on the cover or in the inside pages. The teenage glamour queen, in addition, has joined the ranks of such jaw-droppingly beautiful women as Heidi Klum, Elle MacPherson, Tyra Banks and Brooklyn Decker, as a member of that elite group of cover girls.