Mark Sanchez love interest Kate Upton could inch out other top models to clinch the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition cover.
The Victoria’s Secret model, recently linked with the Jets quarterback, is considered the top candidate for the cover this year, which will be unveiled Monday on “The Late Show withDavid Letterman.”
Sources tell us Upton’s blond, all-American looks made her a top contender even though the magazine crowned Russian lingerie model Irina Shayk, the girlfriend of soccer superstarCristiano Ronaldo, as its cover star last year.
Michigan-born Upton, 19, who made her SI Swimsuit debut last year, was at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting at Lincoln Center to mark the kickoff of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but the bombshell played coy about her chances of landing the cover — a guaranteed giant career boost.
“All I can really say is that I’m in the issue,” Upton told Page Six, adding that she’s missing the New York shows because she’ll be promoting the SI issue, including at a launch party at Pure in Las Vegas next week, where Bruno Mars will perform. But she added, “Fingers crossed!”
Other cover candidates include swimsuit veteran Chrissy Teigen, the fiancée of R&B crooner John Legend, and blond Russian model Anne V., the Victoria’s Secret model who was dating Adam Levine.
Also in the running: Genevieve Morton, a South African stunner who debuted in the 2010 SI Swimsuit issue, andAlyssa Miller, a California girl who made her SI debut last year.
Another source told us, “There’s no clear front-runner” for the cover. “There’s a lot of talk about Kate in general. But the idea of American versus international has never been a part of the [debate]. It really comes down to the best picture wins.” A Sports Illustrated rep declined to comment.