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Gayle King reveals how she prepared for her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, and Oprah’s reaction

The 'CBS Mornings' co-host tells PEOPLE all about her initial reaction to being asked to pose for the magazine before being surprised on air with her cover

Gayle King Covers the 2024 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ' Issue. . PHOTO:


Gayle King is reigning supreme on the 2024 cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

The CBS Mornings co-host, who turns 70 later this year, says she thought she was “being punked” when she was asked to be in the 60th Anniversary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue out May 17.

“It wasn’t something I dreamed about,” King tells PEOPLE of the honor, “but it was one of the highlights of all the things I’ve done because I never thought this would be possible.”

King was surprised with her cover spot reveal during a live on-air segment of CBS Mornings on Tuesday, May 14, with Hunter McGrady and Kate Upton — who also have solo covers — handing King her issue. (Chrissy Teigen also stars on a solo cover.)

"Ahhh! I'm on the cover," the journalist screamed with excitement, holding the issue. "They told me I was just going to be on the inside! It's not a dummy cover? This is going to be on the newsstands? Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"I’m floating, I’m floating, I can’t believe it," she said, noting she didn't think she'd ever be on the cover. "Never in my wildest dreams! Never, ever, ever."

MJ Day, Editor in Chief of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, says of King's moment in the magazine, "Gayle King, a first-timer who, like her co-cover models, not so gently reminds us that women are limitless and control their destinies.”

King tells PEOPLE that before saying yes to the photo shoot she used her family as a sounding board.

"I consulted my kitchen cabinet, which is daughter, Kirby, son, Will and Oprah," she says, "And Oprah was like, 'You and I have two very different ideas of fun always,' but she said, 'But it seems like something you would really enjoy.' And Kirby and Will were like, 'Go for it. Go for it.'" 

For her cover moment King wears a chic, printed one-piece swimsuit and cover-up by Evarae.

"I wanted tasteful cleavage, and they delivered on all of that," King says of the swimsuits in the issue.

King tells PEOPLE she didn't go crazy dieting and maintained her regular exercise routine including cardio, strength training.

"The day before, I did have a cheeseburger," she shares. "It’s one of my favorite things. I did think that I would reduce my eating, but I didn’t even do that."

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