Sports Illustrated cover jinx

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The Sports Illustrated cover jinx is an urban legend that states that individuals or teams who appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine will subsequently be jinxed (experience bad luck).


While the list of "examples" of the jinx may be extensive, an individual record of 49 cover appearances[1] by Michael Jordan did not hinder his success. Similarly, Vince Young also overcame the Sports Illustrated jinx by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice during Texas' National Championship season;[2] Emmitt Smith appeared on the cover the same week the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVIII. In the America's Game documentary, Smith recalled that he adamantly wanted off the cover for fear of the jinx. Regardless, the Cowboys went on to win their second consecutive title of the 1990s, and fourth in team history. Tony Dorsett appeared on the cover under the title of "Heading for the Heisman" in 1976 and indeed won the Heisman Trophy that year. Andrew McCutchen was featured on a September 2013 cover, during a season in which he later won the National League MVP Award and led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first playoff birth in twenty years. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks appeared on a September 2013 cover in which the magazine predicted a Super Bowl XLVIII win for the team; indeed, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl that year.

The most common explanation for the perceived effect is that athletes are generally featured on the cover after an outlier performance; their future performance is likely to display regression toward the mean and be less impressive by comparison. This decline in performance would then be misperceived as being related to, or even possibly caused by, the appearance on the magazine cover.

SI addressed their own opinions on the "alleged" cover jinx in a 2002 issue that featured a black cat on the cover.[3]

Notable incidences[edit]


  1. ^ "Sports Illustrated". CNN. 
  2. ^ Paula Zahn (2002-01-25). "Is Their (sic) a "Sports Illustrated" Cover Jinx?". CNN. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  3. ^ "The Cover That No One Would Pose for: Is the SI Jinx for Real?". CNN and Sports Illustrated. 2002-01-21. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  4. ^ Lawrence (1998) p. 87Lawrence, Mike (1998). Grand Prix Cars 1945–1965. Motor Racing Publications. ISBN 1-899870-39-3. 
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  17. ^ "Most Popular". CNN. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Tony Mandarich". CNN. 
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  21. ^ Silver, Michael (September 4, 2000). "Recharged". Sports Illustrated.  Full-size image of cover here.
  22. ^ "Oregon Ducks 2003 Schedule". ESPN.
  23. ^ Juliet Macur (February 5, 2009). "Phelps Disciplined Over Marijuana Pipe Incident". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  24. ^ Joe Everett (2010-01-27). "NFL Fantasy Six-Pack". Bleacher Report. 
  25. ^ "Box Score: Texas vs. Tampa Bay - October 6, 2010". 2010-10-06. 
  26. ^ Andy Staples (2009-09-25). "The SI Cover Jinx Strikes Again!". CNN and Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  27. ^ "MMQB (cont.)". CNN. October 3, 2011. 
  28. ^ Boren, Cindy. "Albert Pujols hits a home run; is his slump over?". The Washington Post. May 7, 2012.
  29. ^ Box score: St. Louis vs. Texas, October 22, 2011. October 22, 2011.
  30. ^ Sullivan, T.R. "Hamilton hospitalized with intestinal virus". June 15, 2012.

Further reading[edit]