The 24-year-old model, who hails from Compton, California, follows behind Tyra Banks and Beyonce as the third black woman to ever cover the coveted annual magazine, which is on sale now. Herrington found out about the honor in the best way when Banks -- who was the first black woman to the publication -- surprised her with the news as if she was on America's Top Model.
"One girl stands before me, but I only have one photo in my hands," she told Herrington. "This photo represents the girl that is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2018 cover model."
After hearing that she landed the cover, Herrington immediately broke down in tears. "Thank you so much," she said to Banks. "You're my reason. I used to watch you all the time. Thank you so much."
Herrington also appeared on Tuesday's Good Morning America and was once again surprised by Banks, who was adamant that this cover would change her life.
"Do you really understand what's going down right now?" the 44-year-old supermodel exclaimed in a video message. "So many little girls are going, 'Oh my gosh. That could be me one day.' ...By them looking at me back in the day and them looking at you now, you are the living embodiment to say that dreams do come true."
Christie Brinkley's 19-year-old daughter, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, is also featured in this SI issue and revealed to ET why she did not tell her supermodel mother that she was posing nude in the magazine.