Black model Tanaye White wins Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2020 model search

White joins the magazine as a rookie in the 2021 class

Tanaye White Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Tanaye White is one of the 2021 rookies in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. (Photo: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

The winners of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit‘s annual model search have finally been revealed and one of the two models, Tanaye White, is turning heads with her beautiful brown skin and lush mane of natural hair.

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According to People, last summer thousands of models auditioned with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit team before the magazine narrowed down the group to just 16 finalists at the end of the year.

Now it’s official that White and fellow model Kathy Jacobs, 56, were selected as the 2020 Swim Search winners, landing spots as rookies in the upcoming 2021 issue.

“I’ve dreamed of what this moment would look like for years and I cannot believe it’s happening! My stomach is flipping nonstop,” White, 28, said. “My life will be forever changed. I hope my testimony shows people that you can do anything you put your mind and heart towards.”

White has participated in the Swim Search for the past two years, and last year the Georgetown University graduate quit her job at a defense and aerospace agency to follow her dreams of being a model.

“She’s incredibly resilient and strong, and brings so much value to our team,” says Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief M.J. Day. “She’s shown such tenacity in achieving her goals.”

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At 56-years-old and only 5’3,” her SI Swim rookie counterpart, Jacobs, also hopes her win “inspires others not to give up on themselves.”

“If I can do it, you can too! You are not too old. You are not too short. You are not too ‘whatever you think you are,'” she told the magazine. “When you fall down, put on your big girl pants — or in my case a bikini — and try again. I am so excited for what the future holds and this is just the icing on the cake!”

“We are so excited to announce this year’s Swim Search winners,” Day told People. “Both women represent the power of persistence, hard work, and what it means to follow your dreams.” 

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