Rookie of the Year voting begins next week! Before you cast your vote, spend some time getting to know the 12 members of our incredible rookie class. Next up is Olivia Culpo.
SI Swimsuit: What was your reaction to winning Miss Universe?
Olivia Culpo: My immediate reaction was how grateful I was to had my family there. It's a weird first reaction but I looked down and saw my family, my friends and family, I was so so grateful to have them there.
SI: How did that compare to being told you would be in the Swimsuit issue?
OC: Also so exciting! My first phone call was to my mom and dad. I feel like something that's so exciting about success is being able to share it with people important to you. I knew they would freak.I've been dying to do this my entire career. I felt like I was going to cry.
SI: How do you deal with all the success you’ve had at a young age?
OC: It can be overwhelming at times. I go through that all the time. Randomly you feel an onset of anxiety. Everything I do is on a big level and there are so many eyeballs. I have to stay grounded. I go back to where I came from in Rhode Island, outside of all this glitz and glamour, and that always brings me back. I come from a very small community; my street is actually called Olivia Culpo Way. But my success is not what defines me at all.
SI: Why was being in Sports Illustrated such a big deal for you?
OC: The list of people in this magazine is just phenomenal. Every successful supermodel who is known for more than just their beauty has been part of this magazine. There is a depth to that you can't say about any other publication. Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, so many others. These women are moguls who use this as a stepping stone. All these girls were catapulted from Sports Illustrated, so I’ve always had a serious respect. The moment I knew i was doing a test shoot I got a coffee table book so I could look at every model’s photos throughout the years.
SI: I know you’re a big Patriots fan.
OC: I try to keep sports fun. For me, it's a lot about my hometown. It's about the pride I have coming from New England, and then obviously my boyfriend is on the team. I keep out of the drama. Even when the Patriots don't play well, there's just this culture behind sports in New England—we are passionate. whether we are on top or losing, we are so passionate.
SI: What was it like to work on a movie with Bruce Willis?
OC: Well I will say he is extremely professional. He comes on set and knows what he wants to do. People are on their best behavior around home He's an expert at what he does. He only needs one take and he's done.
SI: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done on a shoot?
OC: What have I not been asked to do? I can't say taking off my clothes because that can be part of any photo shoot. One time I was asked to bake cupcakes. Like decorate cupcakes for a fashion shoot... That's a weird one.
SI: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
OC: I think I would love to be like Spider-Man. I would love to have spider-web powers! So I can grab anything that I want at any distance. I would use the webs to avoid traffic. I can swing among the buildings in LA and New York and get around a lot quicker. I would want to be Peter Parker.
Meet the final three rookies of SI Swimsuit 2018: