Camille Kostek Josie Clough for Sports Illustrated

Camille Kostek, the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Model Search Winner, got a major promotion this year: She landed 2019’s coveted cover spot! The 27-year-old beauty joined supermodel Tyra Banks and soccer star Alex Morgan as the stars of three separate covers of Sports Illustrated’s famous swimsuit issue.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit took to Twitter to show the former New England Patriots cheerleader finding out that she snagged the cover spot. In the clip, Kostek is shown a video of her frolicking on the beach in various bathing suits and on the end screen, a photo of the magazine cover with her on it donning a Meshki bikini top and bottom.

The Connecticut-native pointed at the television screen as she opened her mouth in shock and yelled out “Oh my God” as the magazine’s editor, MJ Day, walked into the room to share the news. She continued, ‘Oh my God. I can’t even believe that, like, I’m in the freakin spread!… I don’t really feel like I’m here right now! Freckles and stretch marks and this is me and seeing this true Camille Kostek on here is just… I don’t know what to say for the first time in my entire life. Love who you are because when you do just that, the greatest things in your life will happen because this is exactly what this is for me and I’m so happy!” she exclaimed while getting teary-eyed.

Keep reading to find out more about the model!

Camille Kostek Sports Illustrated Cover
Camille Kostek Brian Zak/NY Post/MEGA

She’s a Former Dancer and Cheerleader
Prior to modeling, Kostek was a dancer since she was 3 years old and cheerleader for the Patriots from 2013-2015. “I was a dancer, so I always loved watching girls perform and dance and just always looked up to them and their bodies,” she told SI in February 2018. “I remember loving looking at J.Lo because she had a set of hips. And I think that’s what so cool about this day and age is that you do have that reach. Being an older sister and having been a young woman, it’s super cool for these women to reach out and share their insecurities or something that they want advice on and kind of being able to be their inspiration. That’s like the most fulfilling thing to ever hear.”

She was a Communications Major in College
Before stepping into the spotlight, Kostek studied communications at Eastern Connecticut State University and focused on television production and business management. She was eastern Connecticut’s news anchor for TV22 where she wrote and broadcasted stories live for the Windham area. Because of her degree, she often faced the public on behalf of her cheerleading squad. “It’s great for me to speak on behalf of the team and do things that I went to school for,” she told the the New Haven Register in 2015.

Her Boyfriend is Former NFL Star Rob Gronkowski
Kostek and the retired New England Patriots tight end have been dating since 2015. “We first got in touch once I resigned from the team,” Kostek told Fox News. “I always knew who he was before I was even a cheerleader. I knew who he was on the roster. I just never paid any mind. Once I resigned is when we finally met,” she continued. “I am such a private person. It was hard at first when people would send articles with my name on it. It’s an overwhelming feeling to read something that you have no control over, but like most things, you get strong when you have to deal with situations like that,” she added. “It’s gotten a little easier. And, usually, the people that are close to you know the truth. So it’s one of those things where you just have to let people think what they wanted to think.”

Camille Kostek Sports Illustrated Cover
Rob Gronkowski and Camille Kostek attend the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2019 Issue Launch at Seaspice on May 10, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

She’s All About Body Positivity
Over the years, Kostek has become comfortable with public attention. She took to Instagram after being trolled for a bikini photo that she posted alongside boyfriend Gronkowski to stand up to body shamers. “I can’t begin to explain how many rude comments I got after I posted this photo about my body, but for the women who I was able to help love who they are more from it, I post without hesitation for myself and for YOU,” she wrote. “At 27 years old, the older I got, they would tell me, ‘Okay well if you’re not going to adjust your measurements, girl, you’re getting older. This is even gonna push you out even more,’” she told Yahoo Lifestyle on the BUILD series stage. “I didn’t even aspire to be a model because I didn’t see myself represented, even as simple as the freckles on my skin.”

She’s Always Wanted to be a ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue‘ Model
“When I was young, the way I was brought up, my mom made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I discovered Sports Illustrated when I was 15. As women, we can’t help but compare ourselves, but when I saw the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, I found a model I could relate to,” she told Haute Living. “The girls were stunningly beautiful, but all of the girls looked normal. I wanted to see a model who had hips, thighs and freckles like me.”

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