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Bar-rafaeli-si-one
Bar Refaeli approves of her giant likeness stretched along the side of a brand new Boeing 737 flown by Southwest Airlines.
Erick W. Rasco/SI

 

SI.com's Arash Markazi is spending the week reporting on this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit launch. The issue hit newsstands on Feb. 10.

LAS VEGAS -- If you're lucky enough, there will come a point in your life when you are certain you have the greatest job in the world. Of course, there is no official way to judge this distinction. It's like saying you have world's cutest kid or the world's greatest mom ... but I'm fairly certain I would at least be in the running.

My only piece of evidence is an eight-word e-mail assignment from my editor:

"You, 19 models, NYC to Vegas, 24-hour party."

This wasn't an assignment I necessarily prepared for when I took journalism classes in college, and it's one I couldn't have even dreamed about when I was a kid and my dad took Elle Macpherson and her black spandex one-piece out of my tiny hands and said I wasn't "old enough for that."

Well, 20 years later, I can say with all due respect, "Take that dad!"

Now, I normally wouldn't brag about flying on Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas from New York, but when your flight on the normally budget airline is dubbed "SI One" and is covered in a photo of cover girl Bar Refaeli on the outside with 19 SI Swimsuit models on the inside ... well, things tend to be slightly more interesting than normal.

After all, it isn't everyday that you have Julie Henderson sleeping on your shoulder near the exit row, get a tour of the cockpit with Brooklyn Decker and nearly fall on Jessica White on your way to mix your own drink in the back of the plane. Suddenly, the no-frills airline had more frills than Air Force One.

The flight, which left around 11 pm after a party in New York, landed in Las Vegas at 2 am before everyone on the plane was whisked to the Luxor hotel, where there would be another party at club LAX with John Legend performing Thursday night. Apparently, there can't be enough parties when you are with swimsuit models.

Before they reveled in Sin City, however, the girls met up with the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar B. Goodman, who presented them with a key to the city. It was one of the few times Goodman wasn't out in public with a couple of Vegas showgirls in tow, which probably made sense considering he was surrounded by supermodels. The honor was bittersweet for White, who had been presented with a ceremonial key to the city before -- but never actually got a key.

"I wish I could actually get a key," said White, who was instead given a figurine of the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign. "It would be nice to have one, but I heard if you get presented with the key to the city you can do whatever you want that day, so I'm planning on having a lot of fun tonight."

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