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Photos & videos: Models sizzle at Caesars Palace, Cosmopolitan as Sports Illustrated toasts 2013 Swimsuit Issue


Lori Tingey/

2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Kate Upton arrives at Marquee in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.

Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe

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2013 S.I. Swimsuit Issue: Caesars Palace

2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue models Kate Bock, Emily DiDonato, Alyssa Miller and Nina Agdal arrive at Caesars Palace on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 S.I. Swimsuit Issue: Marquee

2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Kate Upton arrives at Marquee in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 S.I. Swimsuit Issue: Las Vegas Sign

The 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue models in NCAA jerseys at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Kate Upton at Marquee/Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter

2013 S.I. Swimsuit Issue models/Richard Corey

2013 S.I. Swimsuit Issue models/Richard Corey

Sex sells -- and with the release of the bestselling Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, publishing executives are doubling their bets. Swimsuit Issue Editor M.J. Day revealed Wednesday night at Nobu Caesars Palace that a new, first-ever summer-celebration edition will be released.

Madison Avenue media experts estimate that the annual edition draws $40 million to $50 million in advertising revenue and newsstand sales for owner Time Inc. “We’ll be back in Las Vegas to launch it June 7,” she told me in an exclusive interview. “We love coming to Las Vegas because your city just adds excitement to our sizzle. In addition, we’re going to start a daily bikini beauty pictorial on our digital web platform.”

I asked her if there’d ever be a male swimsuit edition, and she smiled and said, “Stay tuned.”

2012 Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb was the center of attention. M.J. told me, “You all have Brent Musburger to thank for making her famous. He sure put her on the map! She was a perfect addition for this year’s Swimsuit Issue. She looks incredible in bikinis and body paint.”

Could she wind up on the cover one day? Could she stop Kate Upton securing a hat trick next February? Could this Kate be on the cover of the first summer edition?

M.J. told me: “Anything is possible. You never know, but we did put Katherine’s pictorial as the kickoff to our new daily Sports Illustrated web pages. It made perfect sense.”

The models arrived here at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Rookie Emily DiDonato told me during the party at Garden of the Gods pool at Caesars on Wednesday that it was her first-ever visit here. “There were two of us in the car from the airport in the middle of the night seeing it for the very first time and just going, ‘Wow.’

“My friend Natasha Barnard from South Africa, who is also in the magazine with me, had never seen Las Vegas, either. It’s just like the movies. You can feel the excitement. I’m just a small-town girl from Goshen in upstate New York who played basketball, soccer and lacrosse in school -- and then I became a model literally overnight. I never thought I’d ever be in Las Vegas like this.”

Emily and Natasha were among the 17 models who made the trip to promote the 50th anniversary edition. After the Nobu party, the group wearing short skirts, see-through tops and other skimpy outfits shivered in the cool night air and huddled together under heaters before walking the red carpet.

They took part in a live Internet broadcast with singer John Legend’s fiancee Chrissy Teigen, who appears in a body-painting feature in the Bahamas. John told me that he won’t be with her today, as he’s performing in Santa Monica, Calif., and she’ll be at 1OAK in The Mirage tonight, followed by a post-midnight excursion to The Bank in Bellagio. They’ll celebrate this weekend.

The two highlights Wednesday were the 55,000-square-foot wraparound of Octavius Tower at Caesars, which became a 3D, animated, high-tech video wall to showcase the models blown up to 60 feet. It definitely was the largest-ever launch for the magazine! Cover-girl Kate handled one of the countdowns as contributing videographer Richard Corey captured her on video.

Then it was off to Marquee at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This morning, Kate led the magnificent models to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on The Strip for a mini-basketball game. They paid tribute to the upcoming NCAA conference championships for Pac 12, Mountain West, West Coast and Western Athletic conferences. UNLV’s mascot Hey Reb helped them with half-court shots into an oversized hoop.

I love the five-page Las Vegas pullout in the issue. The cheeky headline says, “Sports Illustrated searches the world to find the most beautiful women. We didn’t even have to leave home.” It shows 34 of our city’s gorgeous bikini-clad showgirls, dancers and nightclub models, all of whom could give the Sports Illustrated models a run for their money.

Next week, we’ll have our interviews with the Sports Illustrated media stars about their future Las Vegas plans and why they had to reveal Kate as the back-to-back cover girl ahead of plans thanks to an airline passenger fan as they flew home from Antarctica.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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