Irina Shayk Goes From Unknown Russian Village to Sports Illustrated Cover

February 17, 2011 – 8:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

The cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is almost always fascinating. This time, there’s a story to go with it.

Sports Illustrated chose Irina Shayk as its cover girl this time around. Shayk, a Russian model who dates soccer superstar Christiano Ronaldo but would rather not discuss that right now, grew up in a small village inside Russia. One day, her mother saw an advertisement for a beauty school and Shayk and her sister decided they’d check it out.

Lo and behold, next to the beauty school was a modeling agency and a manager there discovered Shayk. Six years later, she’s living in New York and is on the cover of perhaps the most famous magazine cover in the world.

Irina Shayk joined WFAN in New York with Joe and Evan to discuss achieving a dream by making the cover, her story of how she got here from Russia, her thoughts on American men, whether they are better than Russian men, how she was chosen to be on the cover and also to not discuss her relationship with Christiano Ronaldo.

If being on the cover of Sports Illustrated was a dream:

“Oh my God, yes. For me, I’m from a very, very small village, deep inside of Russia … and I never thought I’d become a model someday. For me, it’s a dream come true because 2011 I’m on the cover of Sports Illustrated and only six years ago, I was living in my village and I didn’t even know what was going on out there.”

How in the world did she go from the small village in Russia to here?:

“It all happened because of the bus stop. My mom, she saw an ad at the bus stop about a local beauty school and I do have a sister and my sister told me, ‘Let’s go to beauty school just for fun.’ We went there and it was a model school next door and one manager came and found me. … I never thought I would become a model. It’s sort of a surprise thanks to my mom, who saw an ad at the bus stop.”

What does she think of American men?:

“I love American men. I think American men are dedicated and they’re gentlemen and they know how to hold the door open when you’re getting out of the car or inside a restaurant. I think they’re doing a really good job.”

Are American men better than Russian men?:

“I cannot compare. It is totally different. … But I love American men because I think they’re gentlemen.”

How do you get chosen as the cover girl?:

“I was in the issue for five years and I cannot say I deserved the cover. … You never know if you’re going to get the cover. I think it’s all about this beautiful shot, that everybody looks at it and is just like, ‘This is the cover.’ Personally, I don’t know how they choose the cover, but everybody loves it. … You never know if you’ve got a cover. I didn’t know that I went to Hawaii and got the cover.”

Her relationship with Christiano Ronaldo:

“Why don’t you call him, guys, and ask him? I can tell you what’s going on in Vegas with me and 17 hot Sports Illustrated models here. … But these kinds of questions, if you ever ask me, you should ask him.”

Listen to Irina Shayk on WFAN in New York here

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