Gayle King Jokes That She Wants to Give a Copy of Her ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’ Cover to Her Ex-Husband

She also shared her best friend Oprah Winfrey’s reaction to her turn as a cover model.

Gayle King
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At 69 years old, Gayle King can add a new accolade to her already impressive resume: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl. And when it comes to who she wants to send a copy to personally? Well, her ex-husband tops the list.

At the launch party for the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue last night, King joked to Entertainment Tonight that she’d like to make sure one Bill Bumpus—who King was married to from 1982 to 1993—has a copy. Of the experience, “It has sunk in, but it’s still mind-blowing to me, honestly,” King said at the party last night, held at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City’s Times Square. “I used to look at it all the time, myself—never in a gazillion years did I think I would be that person.” 

Gayle King Sports Illustrated cover

King's "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue" is on stands now.

(Image credit: Sports Illustrated)

King shares two children with Bumpus—a daughter, Kirby, and a son, William—and she said both kids have reached out about the cover: “Both of them said to me separately, ‘Mom, this is really cool. We’re very proud of you,’” she said, before jokingly adding “I wonder what my ex-husband is saying. I’m gonna send him a copy!”

Per Entertainment Tonight, “She previously accused her ex of cheating on her with a friend in 1990, leading to their eventual split.”

King said the response to her cover has been unexpected, telling the outlet “But what’s been most interesting to me is the number of women who’ve been stopping me, saying, ‘You have no idea what an inspiration this is,’” the CBS Mornings anchor said, adding that she’s been called “brave” for willingly posing in a swimsuit.  

“I had a little trepidation because I didn’t want to look ridiculous,” she said. So she enlisted the help of supermodel Tyra Banks, who King said “showed me how to stand.”

King added that she also gained strength from the Sports Illustrated team, telling Entertainment Tonight that “They make it so comfortable to you,” she said. “The team that they have at Sports Illustrated is no joke.” 

Gayle King and her niece in swimsuits on Thanksgiving

King is no stranger posing in a swimsuit; here she is posing with her niece on a recent Thanksgiving getaway, as shared on Instagram.

(Image credit: Instagram)

Gayle King

King said all of those close to her approved of her taking this leap, including her best friend, Winfrey.

(Image credit: Getty)

As for the reaction of King’s best friend, a woman you may have heard of named Oprah Winfrey? “Oprah said, ‘You and I have two different ideas of fun. You would enjoy that,’” King said. “I go, ‘I do, I do.’ But she said, ‘It’s so you. You should go for it.’ And I do feel it’s going for it. If Oprah, favorite daughter Kirby, favorite son-in-law, and favorite son—if any of them said, ‘Eh, I don’t think you should do it,’ it would have given me pause, but nobody said that.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.