Ellie Thumann Reflects on 2023 SI Swimsuit Photo Shoot, Gushes About the Moment She Got the Offer

The 21-year-old model is known for her fashion, beauty and lifestyle content on YouTube.
Ellie Thumann

Ellie Thumann was photographed by Derek Kettela in Puerto Rico.

In perfect YouTuber fashion, Ellie Thumann vlogged her entire SI Swimsuit rookie photo shoot process for her two million subscribers. From the moments before her flight to behind-the-scenes clips on the beach to her end-of-day emotions, the newest SI Swimsuit rookie captured it all.

“Thank you to Sports Illustrated for the most incredible time of my life,” she wrote on the screen. “BEYOND honored. No words express the gratitude I feel for this opportunity!!!”

She began the video at the airport, walking through security and grabbing a coffee before her flight. Once she arrived at the hotel, Thumann went straight to bed and woke up refreshed the next morning ready to explore the hotel and attend her fitting in the evening.

“I don’t even know what’s happening,” she said. “I’ve had some pretty special moments in my career—ones that I know I’ll remember [for] a lifetime. This is up there as like just that moment.”

Thumann said that she was in Charleston with her friend Hannah Meloche and sister Erin Thumann when she received the exciting news. Being a part of the SI Swimsuit brand had been a goal of hers for a long time.

“I was drinking my coffee and making breakfast in the kitchen of my Airbnb. I remember it so clearly,” she explained. “I got an email from my agent and I saw the [subject] said ‘Congrats’ and my heart sank. It was just like, ‘Here you go. You’re a Sports Illustrated rookie and they want you to fly to Puerto Rico and shoot with them in January.’ I dropped my phone and couldn’t even get the words out.”

The Arizona native had a paddle boarding activity booked for later that day and she recalled spotting dolphins in front of her when it truly hit her.

“It was one of those surreal ‘I’ve made it [moments]’... every single thing that I’ve worked so hard for coming together in that moment,” she said. “[It] just felt so meant to be.”

Since getting the email, the 21-year-old’s main goal has been to get in the right headspace, treat herself well and make sure she shows up as the best and most confident version of Ellie. Thumann added that she succeeded in doing so and felt even more empowered and excited after returning from her fitting the evening before her photo shoot.

“I have no words for how incredible that fitting was. It was the most ‘me’ swimsuits that you could possibly imagine in 15 suits,” she gushed. “And I don’t just say that lightly, like it genuinely was just the most beautiful circle of me in a swimsuit. They were amazing.”

Thumann had trouble describing how she felt the following day after wrapping up her photo shoot, which she described as a forever core memory and a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. Her vlog included tons of behind-the-scenes clips of herself posing in different bikinis and having fun on set.

She added that her experience working with the Swim Team made her feel all the more confident and that “translated” to the photos.

“Recognizing that as it is all happening is just completely overwhelming me because it’s just something I’m gonna always look back on,” she said with a huge smile. “There’s moments that you know are so far and few between where it’s like, ‘Wow. This is going to define the stories I talk about one day.’”

Meet Ellie Thumann—read the 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie’s full feature profile here.

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.