LSU Tigers gymnast Olivia Dunne warms up with her team on floor during the NCAA Women's National Gymnastics Tournament Championship at Dickies Arena. Apr 15, 2023; Fort Worth, TX, USA; LSU Tigers gymnast Olivia Dunne warms up with her team on floor during the NCAA Women’s National Gymnastics Tournament Championship at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced in April that viral gymnastics star Olivia Dunne would be the newest Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

The LSU Tigers student-athlete has become a social media sensation, with over seven million followers on TikTok and over four million on Instagram.

At the time, the 20-year-old said the opportunity was a “dream come true.” However, now we’ve learned that it almost didn’t happen.

Dunne shared her experience with the SI photoshoot at the On3 NIL Elite Series in Nashville on Wednesday. Per OutKick,  the swimsuit photoshoots usually last around a week. However, when Sports Illustrated reached out to Dunne, her coach only allotted her one day to take part because they were still in the middle of her season.

Undeterred, Dunne hopped on a plane from Baton Rouge to Puerto Rico, did the photoshoot, and was back at LSU within 24 hours.

The senior recently talked about what the opportunity meant for her in a video posted to Sports Illustrated’s Instagram page in April

“Being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model is a dream come true,” Dunne said. “There’s a lot of young girls who look up to me, and I feel like a lot of young girls also follow Sports Illustrated. So, both of our brands, I think, align because we both want to inspire the younger generation.

“As a woman, no one really expected a gymnast to be at the forefront of (name, image and likeness deals). Most people expected football, baseball, basketball. To be a woman at the forefront, and trying to make the playing field more level, is definitely a step in the right direction.”


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to