SI.com's Arash Markazi is spending the week reporting on this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit launch. The issue hits newsstands on Feb. 10.
NEW YORK – The first thing publicists tell you about Bar Refaeli is that her name is spelled Refaeli, not Rafaeli (as it's misspelled by many, even on an invitation to a party she hosted Tuesday night) and is pronounced Re-fa-el-E, not Raf-eli (as many, including David Letterman, have mispronounced it).
The first thing Refaeli will tell you is that it doesn't matter what you call her as long as she's on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
"So it's four syllables?" asked Matt Lauer before he interviewed Refaeli on The Today Show Tuesday morning, eight hours after her cover was unveiled on national television and around the same time the SI Swimsuit issue was hitting newsstands around the country.
"People can say it however they want," said Refaeli as she got her hair and makeup done in The Today Show green room. "I'm just glad they spelled my name right on the cover."
Follow Refaeli around for a day as I did Tuesday and you'll notice that it's the simple things in life that excite her most. As she was shown around the CNBC studios before an appearance on Power Lunch she stopped when she saw a Snuggie box on someone's desk.
"You have a Snuggie? I want one," she said, looking at the infomercial item. "How did you get it? Where did you buy it?"
When she was given a name tag with her name etched on it at the New York Stock Exchange she smiled and said, "This is so cool, can I keep this?"
Even her image on the cover still amazed her a day after seeing it for the first time. "That's a pretty dope cover," she said as she was getting her hair done in the boardroom of the NYSE. "My bellybutton looks weird but I love the cover."
Despite being a supermodel and dating a famous Hollywood actor for the past three years, Refaeli seemed more awestruck than many of her predecessors by the attention she was receiving after being chosen as the SI Swimsuit cover model. After appearing on The Today Show she asked to be driven by the billboard of her cover outside of the Ed Sullivan Theatre and bought a camera to take a picture of it. Later while having lunch at the CNBC cafeteria (when she found out that being on Power Lunch didn't actually include a power lunch she asked if there was food nearby) she was told she was one of the most-searched people on Google that day.
"I was even Googling myself last night," she said, as she munched on curly fries. "I wanted to see if they had any more pictures of the issue."
On a day when stocks tumbled after the bailout was unveiled, Refaili's appearance on CNBC and at the New York Stock Exchange was an interesting juxtaposition with the dozens of talking heads in the background as she was joined by fellow SI Swimsuit models Tori Praver, Jessica Gomes, Cintia Dicker and Daniella Sarahyba for the NYSE's closing bell ceremony.
Since it was a day that most would like to forget on Wall Street, few on the floor minded when Praver rang the bell about 15 seconds too early and Refaeli proceeded to slam the gavel down as hard as she could before raising her hands in the air and doing a little dance.
"She was serious about the gavel," said NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer. "Good thing she didn't miss because if she did, pieces of it would have been flying everywhere. I've never seen anyone take a bigger backswing at that thing."
As Refaeli looked at the replay of the closing bell ceremony along with the other models she said, "You told me to hit it hard and I do what I'm told."