Last year, when Sports Illustrated sought an unknown model to pose among the more famous figures in its annual Swimsuit Issue, the magazine announced the winner on an episode of NBC’s Dateline. This year, the network has turned the search into a full-fledged, six-episode reality series. Premiering on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m., Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search features 12 finalists who’ll be winnowed down to two by a panel of judges — former SI swimsuit model Roshumba Williams, NEXT Model Management president Joel Wilkenfeld, and Jule Campbell, the SI editor who founded the Swimsuit Issue. Viewers will vote in February for the winner, who gets an SI Swimsuit Issue spread and a $1 million contract with NEXT. (SI, like EW.com, is owned by Time Warner.)
We’ve prepared a portfolio of the competitors, none of whom has had any national exposure until now. As we await all the drama of tan lines, secret cellulite, and casually catty, ego-shredding commentary, read on for early info from the judges and aspiring models.