Katherine Elizabeth Upton (born June 10, 1992) is an American model and actress, known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Upton was named Rookie of the Year following her first appearance in 2011, and was the cover model for the 2012, 2013 and 2017 issues. She was also the subject of the 100th-anniversary Vanity Fair cover. Upton has also appeared in the films Tower Heist (2011) and The Other Woman (2014).
Upton was born in St. Joseph, Michigan. She is the daughter of Shelley (née Davis), a former Texas state tennis champion, and Jeff Upton, a high school athletics director. Her uncle is U.S. Representative Fred Upton. Upton’s great-grandfather, Frederick Upton, was co-founder of appliance manufacturer and marketer Whirlpool Corporation.
In 1999, Upton moved with her family to Melbourne, Florida, where she was a student at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. As a young equestrian, she showed at the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) and competed at a national level. With her horse Roanie, she won three APHA Reserve World Championships – 13 and Under Western Riding, 13 and Under Horsemanship, and 14–18 Western Riding. She was named the 13 and Under Reserve All-Around Champion, giving her a total of four reserve championships (2nd place). In addition, Upton ended up third overall on the APHA youth Top Twenty. With a second horse, Colby, she won 14–18 Western Riding and was included in the top 5 in 14–18 Horsemanship and 14–18 Western Pleasure in 2009.
Upton attended a casting call in Miami for Elite Model Management in 2008 and was signed the same day. She eventually moved to New York City, where she then signed with IMG Models.
Upton first modeled clothing for Garage and Dooney & Bourke. She was the 2010–11 face of Guess. In 2011, Upton appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She was featured in the body paint section and named Rookie of the Year for that issue. She has since modeled for Beach Bunny Swimwear, and has appeared in Complex and Esquire as “The Woman of the Summer”. Upton wore one of the Beach Bunny suits in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
In April 2011, an Internet video of her doing the dougie hip-hop dance at a Los Angeles Clippers game went viral and served to increase her popularity. Guy Trebay of The New York Times observed that this served to illustrate the power of social media to bestow stardom upon a model, which had previously been the domain of top designer runway shows. In April 2012, Upton appeared in a video of herself performing the Cat Daddy dance to the song of the same name by The Rej3ctz, which also went viral. Upton made an appearance in a June 2011 episode of Tosh.0 and participated in the 2011 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, in July 2011.
Upton’s acting debut was in the film, Tower Heist, as Mr. Hightower’s mistress. It was released in November 2011. She also appeared in The Three Stooges as Sister Bernice .Upton appeared on the cover of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, released in February 2012. Upton has also recounted the negative aftereffects of the 2012 Sports Illustrated cover, as she was subjected to criticism and felt she had been objectified.