Raised in sunny Florida, Kate Upton, the newest model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue, is no stranger to a bikini.

“In Florida, people walk around in their flip-flops, bikinis and jean shorts, so I’m very comfortable in a bathing suit,” she said in a telephone interview before the cover was revealed Monday night on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS.

On the cover, Upton is seen sporting a tiny red-and-brown, sparkle-covered string bikini with a view of the waters of Australia behind her.

kate upton si 4051 SI Swimsuit Edition Cover: Kate Upton

Photo released by Sports Illusrated parent company Time Inc. Credit Sports Illustrated

“That was one of the first photos from the first shoot,” the 19-year-old Upton said. “It was my favorite swimsuit. … I felt sexy in it but confident.”

This is Upton’s second time appearing in the annual SI issue. Last year, when Irina Shayk was on the cover, Upton was chosen as rookie of the year.

“I have had a great year,” she said. “For me, this is groundbreaking.”

Check out this video of the SI swimsuit models announcing “The Top Ten Reasons The 2012 Swimsuit Issue Is The Best Ever.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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