Whoever it was that said a little fame never hurt anybody was never on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The SI cover jinx is an urban legend that states that individuals or teams who appear on the cover of the magazine will subsequently experience misfortune. SI tried to address the topic in a January 2002 issue, in which the magazine interviewed sports psychologist Jim Loehr, who called the jinx "a failure to efficiently metabolize heightened expectations." In layman’s terms, the "jinxed" cover subjects merely choked under the extra attention. (The "jinx" applies to athletes and teams that appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Kids, too.)
Here are some recent examples of the SI cover jinx.
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Conor McGregor — February 29, 2016 Issue
Conor McGregor lost to Nate Diaz via submission in the second round at UFC 196 on March 5, 2016.
Photo: Deirdre Brennan for Sports Illustrated
Will Smith — December 28, 2015 Issue
Will Smith's Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama was not enough to sway the Academy. On January 14, 2016, the veteran star wasn't named for Best Actor and Concussion was excluded from the nominations completely.
Photo: Michael Grecco for Sports Illustrated
Daniel Murphy — November 2, 2015 Issue
Daniel Murphy set a major league record with homers in six straight postseason games and was batting .421 with seven home runs and 11 RBI through 9 games headed into the World Series. Murphy proceeded to bat .150 (3-for-20) with zero home runs and zero RBI, making two costly errors in Game 4, as the Mets lost to the Royals in five games.
Photo: Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated
Serena Williams — July 9, 2015 Issue
Serena Williams had won four consecutive Grand Slams and was the three-time defending US Open champion, but she failed to complete the calendar Grand Slam after losing to unranked Roberta Vinci in the US Open semifinals on Sept. 11, 2015.
Photo: Bob Martin for Sports Illustrated
Kentucky (Karl-Anthony Towns) — April 6, 2015 Issue
The undefeated Kentucky Wildcats lost in the Final Four to Wisconsin, 71-64, on April 4, 2015.
Photo: David Richard/AP
Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley) — March 30, 2015 Issue
The Cleveland Indians, just like in 1987, were pegged to win the World Series. The Tribe finished 81-80 in 2015, missing the playoffs.
Photo: Robert Beck for Sports Illustrated
Oregon (Byron Marshall) — January 12, 2015 Issue
The Oregon Ducks were predicted to win the National Championship, 45-41, but lost 42-20 to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Photo: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports
Jonas Gray — November 24, 2014 Issue
The Friday after a 201-yard, four-touchdown performance on 37 carries, New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray was late for practice, sent home, and told he will not start. The next game, he did not have a single carry, with head coach Bill Belichick focusing on newly-signed LeGarrette Blount. Gray received just 24 carries over the team's final seven games, including the postseason.
Photo: David E. Klutho for Sports Illustrated
Alex Poythress — November 10, 2014 Issue
Poythress was one of five different players on a regional cover for the college basketball season preview. On Dec. 11, 2014, Poythress suffered a torn ACL during a team practice while on an uncontested breakaway layup, ending his season after 10 games.
Photo: Andrew Hancock for Sports Illustrated
Ole Miss and Mississippi State — October 13 and 20, 2014 Issues
Ole Miss started 7-0, but fell to 9-4, capped off by a 42-3 defeat to TCU in the Peach Bowl. Meanwhile, after starting off 9-0 and being the No. 1 team for five weeks, Mississippi State dropped to 10-3 losing three of their last four, including two straight losses to arch-rival Ole Miss, 31-17, and Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, 49-34.
Photo: SI Premedia; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Mo'ne Davis — August 25, 2014 Issue
Mo'ne Davis, dominating for Pennsylvania in the 2014 Little League World Series, was the first Little League player to appear on the cover of SI. Her first game afterwards, she pitched 2.1 innings and gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, taking an 8-1 loss to Nevada. Pennsylvania would be eliminated in their next game by Illinois.
Photo: Al Tielemans for Sports Illustrated
Braxton Miller — August 18, 2014 Issue
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller was featured on one of the five regional college football preview covers. Days later, he re-injured his surgically repaired right shoulder, resulting in him missing the entire 2014 season.
Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
George Springer — June 30, 2014 Issue
George Springer was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 23, 2014 and would miss the rest of the season.
Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh) — June 2, 2014 Issue
After they went on to win the Eastern Conference Finals in six games, the New York Rangers faced the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final only to lose in five games.
Photo: Kathy Willens/AP
Recent SI Cover Jinx