After 50 years, Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue still soaks up headlines and advertiser dollars like bikini models soak up the sun. The first cover debuted in 1964 as a way for the managing editor, Andre Laguerre, to fill the pages during the slow Winter months. He asked editor Jule Campbell to lead the charge, and she proceeded to turn the annual issue into a major cultural moment. This week the 50th cover was unveiled. While you could dismiss the issue as an off-topic, sexed-up ploy for attention by the otherwise straight-sports publication, it has managed to matter over the past five decades. These six examples show why.