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Posted: February 14, 2016

Plus-size model graces cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit for the first time

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The Sports Illustrated 2016 Swimsuit edition cover was revealed Saturday night, following the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk competition on TNT.

During the broadcast, hosts Nick Cannon and Rebecca Romijn called three models who had been featured in the magazine to the stage: Ashley Graham, Hailey Clauson and former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey.

The three women waited with anticipation for Cannon and Romijn to announce which of them had been selected to grace the cover, only to find out that Sports Illustrated decided to feature all three women on three separate covers. 

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Graham, a 28-year-old plus-size model from Lincoln, Nebraska, was among the three women. 

The size-14 model posted a picture of her magazine cover on Instagram, dedicating it to "every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size."  

"You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to," she wrote.

Graham, who is also an activewear model for Forever21, has her own clothing line and has hosted a TED Talk on body diversity. 

"We are going to be the ones that say, you know, it doesn't matter what size you are. It doesn't matter if you have cellulite," Graham said on "Good Morning America" Saturday. "It doesn't matter if things jiggle where they’re not supposed to. That’s still beautiful."

Sports Illustrated's assistant managing editor, MJ Day, said the three cover models represent diversity in beauty.

"All three women are beautiful, sexy and strong," Day said. "Hailey is a modern take on the traditional bombshell. Ronda is a cultural phenomenon -- a combination of beauty, brains, brawn and humility. Ashley is a sultry feminine masterpiece. Beauty is not cookie cutter. Beauty is not one size fits all. Beauty is all around us and that became especially obvious to me while shooting and editing this year's issue."

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