Sports Illustrated Swimsuit names Tanaye White, Kathy Jacobs as model search winners

'Both women represent the power of persistence, hard work and what it means to follow your dreams'

Tanaye White and Kathy Jacobs are officially Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Model Search winners for 2020.

"We are so excited to announce this year's Swim Search winners are Tanaye White and Kathy Jacobs!” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s editor-in-chief M.J. Day told Fox News on Thursday in a written statement. “Both women represent the power of persistence, hard work and what it means to follow your dreams.”

Both women have secured a spot as a Rookie in the 2021 issue.

“Tanaye, who participated in Swim Search two years in a row, is incredibly resilient and strong,” Day said. “She brings so much value to our team and has shown such tenacity in achieving her goals. Kathy unapologetically shows the world who she is and stands behind everything she believes in. We love her for that.”

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The search first began with a casting call last July in Miami where thousands of women flocked to meet the SI Swimsuit team. By the end of 2019, the magazine narrowed down the group to 16 finalists.

“Both women collectively represent what Swim Search stands for: an inclusive and empowered place for individuals to be seen and be heard,” shared Day. “We are thrilled to welcome these incredible women into our family.”

Tanaye White

Tanaye White (Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated)

After the models explained why they would be a notable addition to the brand, the outlet selected six finalists: Brielle Anyea, Clarissa Bowers, Christie Valdiserri, Jamea Lynee and Jacobs and White. The women were flown to Turks and Caicos in February where they were photographed by Yu Tsai for SI Swimsuit’s 2020 issue, which is now on newsstands.

This year's issue features Kate Bock, Olivia Culpo and Jasmine Sanders as the newest cover girls.

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Kathy Jacobs

Kathy Jacobs (Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated)

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In the end, it was White, 28, as well as Jacobs, 56, who were chosen.

White is a Georgetown University graduate who left behind her job at the largest defense and aerospace agency to try out for SI Swimsuit in 2019. As for Jacobs, she was determined to prove that age is just a number.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” White recalled to Fox News in March about jetting off to Turks and Caicos for her shoot. “Even to this day, I’m still trying to make sense of what happened to me. It was the most exhilarating experience I’ve ever had. I was very nervous because it was my first major photo shoot.”

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“I want to be the oldest rookie,” Jacobs also told Fox News in March. “I think just in general if you don’t take the risk and you don’t put yourself out there, you’re not going to get a job in anything you want to do. If you don’t take a risk and put yourself out there, you’re not going to be the best person at golf or you’re not going to be able to beat your buddy at tennis. It’s the same thing. It’s just whatever you want to set your mind to. It just happens to be, I set my mind to posing in a bikini for Sports Illustrated.”

Fox News' Julius Young contributed to this report.