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Why The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Is The “Bikini Oscars”

On Monday night, David Letterman will announce the cover model for the 2011 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. In addition to launching a heretofore unknown bikini model to instant fame (assuming she’s not famous already), the announcement will also help raise the profile of the bikini-makers themselves.

Bikini designers who expect to be in the issue are already pre-selling some of their featured suits, and are all obviously awaiting the Letterman announcement anxiously. Their fate rests with SI’s swimsuit editor, Diane Smith, who decides which pieces of fabric make the issue.

“I think a lot of the designers that are in it for so many years understand what we need. The more suits we have, the better chance you have of being in the issue,” Smith said.

The Letterman announcement will come after a special Top 10, which will, of course, be presented by SI swimsuit models. It’s the fourth years in a row that Dave has announced the Swimsuit Issue’s cover girl on his show.

And if you can’t wait until Monday, don’t worry: here’s a behind-the-scenes video from one of the shoots to hold you over until then:

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