She may be just 25, but Megan Thee Stallion continues to make history. The record-breaking hip-hop star is the first rapper to land a Sports Illustrated cover, appearing on the legendary sports magazine’s 58th annual swimsuit edition — out July 22 — wearing a $40 zippered bikini from her new Fashion Nova swimwear collection.
The “Hot Girl Summer” lyricist, whose birth name is Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, shared the news on Instagram July 19. “Thee first female rapper on the cover of @si_swimsuit,” she wrote on the social media platform. “I want to thank all the strong women in my life who inspired me to love my body and live my best hot girl life. It means the world to me to be on this cover DREAM COME TRUE!!” In a behind-the-scenes video shoot posted by the magazine, Stallion adds, “I was the little girl who was looking at Sports Illustrated like, ‘One day, this is gonna be me.’ And I manifested it. I wanted to do it, and now I’m here.”
Making history has become a common occurrence for the Houston native. Earlier this year, she became the first female rapper since Lauryn Hill to take home the Grammy for Best New Artist, and her hit collaboration with Cardi B, “WAP,” released last August, instantly broke streaming records. According to Nielsen Music, WAP tallied a record-breaking 93 million streams in the U.S. the week after its release, going on to claim the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks.
She’s also the first woman to have three No. 1 streaming songs in the same year — “Savage,” featuring Beyoncé, “WAP” and “Body.”
Stallion’s explosive popularity can in part be attributed to her championing of body positivity. Each release is an unapologetic love letter to curves, confidence and, yes, carnal desire. (“WAP” split the internet in 2020, with conservative critics like Candace Owens calling the track “an attack on American values.” But the message of female sex-positivity struck a chord with listeners across the world.) Before debuting her single “Body” at the American Music Awards in November last year, the rapper preached a motivational message of self-love: “I love my body. Every curve, every inch, every mark, every dimple is a decoration on my temple. My body is mine. And nobody owns it but me,” she said in a prerecorded message that played as she took the stage. “And who I choose to let in is so lucky. You may not think my body is perfect, and it probably never will be, but when I look in the mirror? I love what I see.”
Now, the global superstar has been given a new platform to spread her message. “Shooting the [SI] cover made me feel really empowered and happy,” she told the magazine. “It made me feel good to know that women who have bodies like me can be celebrated — not just the standard types we’ve seen before.”
Megan Thee Stallion follows Beyoncé as the first musical artist to grace the cover of SI’s swimsuit issue since the former Destiny’s Child frontwoman did so in 2007.