2012 May 24
Gilles Bensimon View Gallery
(NEW YORK) Giddy up! At just 19 years old, IMG model du moment Kate Upton is already a championship equestrian whose stratospheric rise comes courtesy of her Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. This summer, spot the Florida native in full splendor from the stables of Amaryllis to the beaches of Southampton. The Daily Dan went straight to the horse’s mouth for the story! BY EDDIE ROCHE, PHOTOGRAPHY BY GILLES BENSIMON
You’re a real summer girl!
Yes! My childhood in Florida was great. I lived on a five-acre farm. It was an ideal childhood. I got to ride horses, and I spent a lot of time on the beach, which probably explains why I’m so comfortable in bikinis.
What do you do on the beach?
I boogie board, I tan, I run around like a crazy person.
Do you read?
Not on the beach. It’s too bright! You can’t see anything.
What were your other haunts?
Every year at school, we went on a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center. I knew my way around there better than I knew my way around my school!
Did you ever want to be an astronaut?
No, I was there for the dried food.
You ate it?
It’s horrible, but it’s the only experience that I slightly enjoyed there. After the 17th visit, I wasn’t really learning anything new.
What does your family think of your career?
I’ve always wanted to be a model, so they’re just very proud that I was able to accomplish my goal at such a young age.
How did the modeling life happen?
I was scouted when I was 12. I started researching what it was all about, but I had to wait until I was 15 to convince my parents to let me try.
Were you a good student?
Yes! I missed a lot of school days because of horse showing, but I always got good grades.
Tell us about the horses!
I showed them, and that was a full-time job because they lived in my backyard. I had to muck stalls, groom, feed…I dedicated my life to it. A horse is an athlete, and they have to stay in shape. I was even the groomer for my horse, Roanie—I did everything! We showed him all around the nation. My current horse is Robbie. He lives in Michigan now, but I’m trying to get him to the Hamptons!
Horse showing and modeling...there’s a familiar ring.
Both involve a lot of travel and meeting new people. You have to be completely dedicated to both horses and modeling in order to have a successful career in either.
Hopefully we’ll see you at The Hamptons Classic this year. What are your parents like?
They just recently moved to Michigan. I was actually born in Michigan and lived there before moving to Florida. They wanted to go back home. My dad is now an athletic director at Niles High School, and my mom helps with the horses.
Your uncle is the popular Congressman Fred Upton from Michigan.
Yes, he’s my dad’s brother, and they live three houses apart. Nobody looks at either one of us like celebrities, though. I only found out recently that he’s really powerful!
Do you talk politics?
I leave the politics to him. I did go to the White House Correspondents’ dinner, and it was a lot of fun. Obama was hilarious. I wouldn’t give the food an A+, but it was pretty good.
Speaking of food, your Carl’s Junior commercial was a viral hit. Give us the exclusive: How do you like your hamburger?
Medium, with everything on it.
Now onto the Hamptons...
I had a lot of fun there—and it’s a lot different from the beach experience in Florida. I really like to get dressed up! Hopefully, I’ll get some invites soon…
We’re not worried! How have you traditionally spent Memorial Day?
We have a big tradition of going to a horse show. It was the only time we’d all get to be together, besides Thanksgiving.
What’s your favorite summer holiday?
My birthday is June 10, so I spend the whole month celebrating.
You’re going to be 20!
I never made my birthday that big of a deal, but maybe I should this year. I might celebrate it in the Hamptons!
Are you obsessed with Twitter?
I’ve been on it for two years. I signed up after Sports Illustrated recommended it to me during one of my shoots. Clearly, yes, I like it.
Do you think you owe a lot of your success to social media?
I owe a lot of my success to Sports Illustrated. Twitter is a great tool because these days most magazines feature actresses and musicians on their covers. Readers feel they can relate to them from seeing them in movies, but models don’t have that, so Twitter is the best way for models to show their personalities. My fans can get to know me from Twitter. They want me to succeed!
How did you find out you were going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated?
I found out on David Letterman! They unveiled the billboard in Times Square live on the show.
How did that make you feel?
How do you imagine it made me feel? It was my dream. It was surreal!
How did you celebrate?
I had to wake up at 4 a.m. the next day to do the morning shows, so I didn’t do much!
Does anything make you nervous?
Sure, but I keep things in perspective. I’m just here to have a good time and if I mess up, I’m going to make it through it. One thing that makes me nervous is interviews—I hope that I come across well and my words aren’t twisted!
What’s Kate Upton’s dream gig now?
I don’t know—my dream really was to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I’m still living in that moment. I don’t want it to die out yet.
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