It was meant to be the culmination of a dream.
For so long, Olivia Culpo had been envisioning herself in the pages of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit edition, the honor being something the Rhode Island-bred model and pageant queen had "wished and hoped for since I was a little girl." But when she turned up to the picturesque cliffs and beaches of Kangaroo Island, just off the coast of Adelaide, her emotions were decidedly mixed. Though she was, as she put it in a May Instagram post reflecting back on the day, "so incredibly thankful for the opportunity," she also found it to be one of the toughest moments of her life.
The mental back-and-forth began before she arrived on set roughly a year ago today. "This was one of my hardest days for personal reasons (as some of you may remember)," she continued. "I landed in Australia to shoot these photos with some info that rocked my world.