Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- On the field, U.S. women's soccer star Ali Krieger turned heads with her team's jaw-dropping win at Sunday's World Cup final.
Off the field, she will be turning heads for a totally different reason because Krieger is among 24 athletes who stripped down and bared it all, tastefully, for the annual ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue."
She joins the iconic list of stars from nearly every sport, including tennis champion Venus Williams, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
In addition to Krieger, this year’s issue features NBA superstar Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, gold medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin.
The rules for every athlete is the same -- they all shoot entirely in the buff. Gronkowski's 2012 shoot is legendary among the Magazine's staff because the NFL star ditched the robe entirely and walked around the set nude for the majority of the day.
ESPN The Magazine's team inspects every photo and decides which ones make the cut.
“We have a lot of athletes who come to us and say, ‘we’re dying to be in the “Body Issue,”’ which is a great thing, a great position to be in,” said the Magazine’s Deputy Editor Neely Lohmann. "You would always like to get your Lebron, people like Venus Williams, who is someone I always wanted and she did it last year."
After multiple shoots and thousands of photos, only six athletes are chosen for the 'Body Issue' cover.
“We have 10 possible covers,” said the Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman. “We’ll choose six covers, and we’ll be upset about all the ones that we don’t get to choose.”
This year, 22-year-old right fielder Bryce Harper, who is having an MVP season with the Washington Nationals and is the leading vote getter for the National League in this weekend's MLB All-Star Game, was picked as one of the covers.
“It's a lot of fun,” he said. “I've been wanting to do that since I was 15 years old so its really cool to me. God gave me a body so I'm gonna show it off."
To prepare for the photo shoot, Harper said he turned to organic juices.
"Being able to get those nutrients get those supplements inside your body is huge, and it really helps you out," he continued.
Although the athletes are completely nude during their "Body Issue" photo shoots, the Magazine says it's not pornography, but rather an artistic expression of the athletic form and the athletes' private areas are not shown.
“That’s the experiment,” said photographer Peter Hapak. “Basically we have to find the right angle, the right light, just to stay on the right line. When we are not showing too much but also showing something that makes the body look good and makes the image different from the rest when the talents are completely dressed up.”
Harper did his photo shoot at a closed set at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and said stripping down for the shoot didn’t bother him.
“I guess I’m just very comfortable in what my body looks like, and I’m not scared to do anything,” he said. “I’m not scared to show it off in that aspect. ESPN’s great with the stuff that they do and I trust them fully with the stuff that they do.”
ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue” is available online Mondat and on newsstands Friday. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of both ESPN and ABC News.
For the first time in the seven-year history of the 'Body Issue,' ESPN Magazine allowed outside cameras to go behind the scenes at a photo shoot with one of the coveted cover athletes. Watch the full story on Nightline Tuesday at 12:35 a.m. ET.
Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- ESPN The Magazine's “Body Issue” issue has celebrated the finest naked physiques of athletes from around the world, including tennis star Venus Williams, soccer goalie Hope Solo and baseball player Prince Fielder.
For this year’s issue, soccer player Ali Krieger, pro tennis player Stan Wawrinka and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman stripped down to nothing -- with key parts artfully obscured.
The Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love is one of six cover models who will appear on the issue.
ABC News’ Mara Schiavocampo talked with Love -- who has just signed a new deal with the Cavaliers that will reportedly pay him $110 million over five years -- about just how naked he was for the shoot.
“I have to ask you -- are you really, fully nude or are there pasties in strategic [spots], and underwear, or is it like the full monty?” she said.
Love, 26, laughed and he replied that it was “a little bit of both.”
“In a way when you first take off that robe you are like, ‘Here I am! I'm out there,’” he said. “So it was an experience. ... It took probably 45 minutes to an hour to really get comfortable but once we started going I was pretty good and really getting into it.”
Love, who stands 6-feet-10-inches tall, is in great shape, but he said that when he was asked to appear in the issue, he had to do some preparation. He got a little extra sun and stuck to his strict diet and fitness routine.
“I always say that it is easier to stay in shape than to get back into shape, so I always make sure that I am always having the proper nutrition, always working out, and always working with the right people so this was no substitute,” he said.
The hoops star said he wasn’t always so fit, especially in his high school days.
He explained how he got from there to today’s toned body.
“I'm probably down between 30 and 40 pounds since then,” he said, referring to the weight loss as lifestyle change as well as learning what he wanted the most and the discipline to achieve it.
“What I wanted most was a body that was going to afford me the opportunity to play at a very high level,” said Love, a three-time All-Star player.
As for his reaction to being asked to be part of the special issue?
“It was really a special moment for me and this is my favorite issue that ESPN does and it is arguably the most prestigious. ... I was pretty blown away,” he said.
The issue is available online Monday and on newsstands on Friday.
photogearch/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. team's victory at the 2015 Women's World Cup is part of a slow but steady trend of growing national interest in soccer.
So what's taking so long?
"Soccer is already being taken more seriously than ever before," Danny Townsend, chief revenue officer of global sports and entertainment sponsorship research company Repucom, said, pointing to the recent improvement in Major League Soccer television deals and investment of brands such as Heineken and Audi.
Though the U.S. men's team has never won a World Cup title, the entire men's tournament is the world's most-viewed sporting event. But in American culture, and in terms of pay for U.S. players, the other professional sports dwarf the beautiful game.
Could that be changing? Major soccer viewership and attendance is currently on the rise -- a trend that began after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.
While the men's game remains in growth mode, women's soccer has failed to grow. Since the women's last won the World Cup in 1999, two women's pro leagues have come and gone. A third, the National Women's Soccer League, averages just a few thousands fans per game.
The broadcast of the women's 5-2 victory over Japan on Sunday reportedly had 25.4 million viewers, breaking the record for the most-watched soccer game in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.
Nielsen will release its final numbers on Wednesday. The U.S. men's match against Portugal last year in Brazil was the record-holder with 18.2 million American viewers on ESPN. Including Univision viewers watching in Spanish, the total reached 24.7 million. According to Nielsen, last year's men's World Cup final between Argentina and Germany had 14.2 million average viewers. There were nearly 18 million who watched the U.S. victory in the 1999 Women's World Cup final.
By comparison, the 2015 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks was watched by a total of 114 million people.
The men's performance in Brazil last year and the women's victory in Vancouver will continue to strengthen the sport's commercial appeal, Townsend said.
"The challenge has always been converting that participation and casual interest into genuine fan avidity," he said. "MLS is aware of that and this upside highlights the opportunity."
Townsend said it's difficult to assess if the sport has finally "made it" in the U.S.
"U.S. sports fans are patriotic and there aren’t many national sports teams that engender that same spirit as the national soccer teams," he said. "Equally, as the MLS continues to build its fan base through leveraging its local talent, supplemented by global stars such as Kaka, [David] Villa, [Frank] Lampard, [Steven] Gerrard and now [Andrea] Pirlo, soccer has plenty of runway ahead."
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — Carli Lloyd experienced the game of her life Sunday.
The midfielder scored three goals — in the first 16 minutes — of the Women’s World Cup final, leading the United States to a 5-2 victory against Japan. The win marks the United States’ first Women’s World Cup title since 1999, when Lloyd was an up-and-coming high school soccer player in New Jersey.
"I've dedicated my whole life to this," Lloyd told reporters following the victory. "And everything [else] comes second. But I wouldn't have it any other way."
Lloyd, 32, began playing soccer at age 5, her mother Pam said in a 1999 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“At that age, it was coed, and Carli was hanging with the boys,” Pam Lloyd said. “She always loved it and showed a lot of ability from an early age, but she also has always worked hard.”
Lloyd attended Delran High School and Rutgers University, and has represented the United States in three World Cups: 2007, 2011 and 2015. She has also participated in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, helping the United States win gold medals in each Games.
Lloyd has previously credited her two goals in the 2012 Olympic final against Japan as her best moment.
But that was prior to Sunday’s World Cup final. Her first goal Sunday came in the third minute on a perfectly timed run on a corner kick. The second goal came minutes later, off a deflection on a free kick.
Her third goal came from midfield, when she caught goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off-guard — securing the fastest hat trick in World Cup history.
"I was just on a mission," Lloyd said. "I was on a mission to help my team win this game."
Lloyd won the Golden Ball Sunday as the tournament’s best player. All six of Lloyd’s goals came in knockout rounds.
Following the victory, President Obama congratulated Lloyd and her teammates on Twitter.
“What a win for Team USA! Great game @CarliLloyd!” he wrote. “Your country is so proud of all of you. Come visit the White House with the World Cup soon.”
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINALS USA 5, Japan 2 INTERLEAGUE Pittsburgh 5, Cleveland 3 AMERICAN LEAGUE Tampa Bay 8, N-Y Yankees 1 Toronto 10, Detroit 5 Boston 5, Houston 4 Baltimore 9, Chi White Sox 1 Kansas City 3, Minnesota 2 Seattle 2, Oakland 1 L.A. Angels 12, Texas 6 NATIONAL LEAGUE Milwaukee 6, Cincinnati 1 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta 0, 10 Innings St. Louis 3, San Diego 1 Chi Cubs 2, Miami 0 Colorado 6, Arizona 4 N-Y Mets 8, L.A. Dodgers 0 Washington 3, San Francisco 1
Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — It was a long night for NASCAR drivers on Sunday night — a very long night that was capped with a very scary crash.
After waiting out a lengthy rain delay, the Sprint Cup Series staged its Coke Zero 400 into the early morning hours at Daytona International Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race. Jimmie Johnson was second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.
The race was scheduled to begin a little after 8 p.m. ET, but because of the weather it didn’t begin until 11:42 p.m. — and was capped with an ugly crash that left Austin Dillon's car obliterated against a safety fence in the final lap.
The driver was able to escape the wreck and wave to fans; he only suffered a bruised tailbone and forearm, ESPN reports.
Multiple cars were involved in the crash, which sent Dillon's #3 car airborne at top speed, and smashing into the Daytona International Speedway catch fence.
Joie Chitwood, the president of the Daytona International Speedway, said at a post-race presser that 13 people in the grandstands were assessed by medical personnel after the crash. Eight declined medical attention, four were treated at the scene, and one was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.
Experts agreed it could have been much worse. "The fence worked," Chitwood said.
Photo by William Volcov/LatinContent/Getty Images(VANCOUVER) -- Carli Lloyd scored twice in the first five minutes on the way to the fastest hat trick in World Cup history and the the U.S. made the margin stand up, defeating Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 Women's World Cup.
With the victory, the American women avenged their 2011 World Cup finals loss to Japan, a game they lost on penalty kicks.
The U.S. struck first, in just the third minute of the game, when Lloyd drilled a shot out of a crowd in front of the net that found the net to Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori's right.
The goal, coming off a corner kick by Megan Rapinoe, was the fastest goal in a finals game in Women's World Cup history, amd had Japan trailing for the first time in the tournament.
Lloyd scored again less than two minutes later to put the U.S. up 2-0, flipping a shot through a defender's legs that trickled into the goal off a free kick.
The U.S. stretched the lead to 3-0 when a charging Lauren Holiday pounded in a shot from the edge of the box in the 14th minute, after a header from Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu went straight up in the air.
Lloyd made it 4-0 less than two minutes later when her blast from midfield got over the goal keeper's outstretched hand.
With the goal, Lloyd became the first woman to score a hat trick in the World Cup final, and just the third U.S. woman to score a hat trick in any World Cup match. Michelle Akers and Carin Jennings Gabarra both accomplished the feat in the 1991 tournament.
Japan finally got on the board in the 27th minute, when Yuki Ogimi turned right in front of the net and chipped a shot over the outstretched hand of U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.
It was first goal scored against the U.S. since the opening match of the tournament against Australia.
Japan cut the margin to 4-2 on an own goal off Julie Johnston's head, but Tobin Heath put the U.S. up 5-2 in the 54th minute, scoring out of a crowd in front of the net.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Major League Baseball All-Star Game starting lineups were announced on Sunday night, with the Kansas City Royals landing four of the starting slots.
A number of familiar names made the cut, with two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera starting at first base for the American League, and Mike Trout joining him in the outfield. For the National League, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton will start.
But the leading vote-getter was Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who will appear in his second midsummer classic.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier will start the game at his home stadium on July 14.
Reserves, pitchers and players eligible for the Final Vote will be announced Monday.
See the full list of starters below:
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals First Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers Second Baseman: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros Shortstop: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels Outfielder: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals Outfielder: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants First Baseman: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks Second Baseman: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals Third Baseman: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds Outfielder: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals Outfielder: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins Outfielder: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals