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Inside Martha Stewart’s incredible journey - from prison to Sports Illustrated’s oldest cover model

The celebrity chef served time at the FCP Alderson correctional facility

Martha attending a tribute dinner
Faye James
Senior Editor
17 May 2023
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Martha Stewartis the woman who has done it all, and she continues to defy convention. 

At 81, the cooking legend has just become the oldest cover model for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition, yet another milestone in a career marked by triumph, controversy, and resilience.

Martha Stewart cooking in the kitchen© Getty
The author is usually photographed in the kitchen

This culinary and lifestyle guru shares the cover with three other trailblazing women – actor Megan Fox, model Brooks Nader, and musician Kim Petras – epitomizing women who “live in a world where they feel no limitations, internally or externally.”

REVEALED: Martha Stewart, 81, swears by this rosewater face mist for glowing skin - and it's just $12 on Amazon 

SEE: Martha Stewart's kitchen is fit for royalty - see the pics

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On being informed about the cover, the cookbook author reacted in her characteristic understated style: “I thought: ‘Oh, well that’s pretty good. I’m gonna be the oldest person, I think, ever on the cover of Sports Illustrated.’” 

Captured by the talented Ruven Afanador in the Dominican Republic, the shoot exemplifies Stewart's ongoing ability to push boundaries.

martha stewart kitchen home
Martha at home

Born Martha Kostyra on August 3, 1941, Martha is best known for her contributions to home living, aesthetic cookbooks, and lifestyle guides, of which she has authored an impressive 98. 

Her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, gave life to an Emmy-award-winning television show.

martha stewart garden© Photo: Instagram
Martha in her garden

But her journey to becoming America's first self-made billionaire hasn't been without its trials. 

The most notable came in 2004 when she was convicted on felony charges for insider trading. 

martha stewart dress© Photo: Getty Images
Martha has spent time in prison

What followed was a highly publicized six-week jury trial that ended in a five-month prison sentence at the FCP Alderson correctional facility in West Virginia, known as "Camp Cupcake."

Amidst the barbed wire-free environment and cottage-style housing, Martha showed her characteristic tenacity. 

She served as an informal liaison between the prison administration and her fellow inmates, transforming her time behind bars into an opportunity to work and help others.

The prison sentence brought speculation that Martha’s media empire would crumble. However, the culinary legend was determined to rewrite her narrative. “I knew I was strong going in and I was certainly stronger coming out,” she said in a 2021 Harper’s Bazaar interview.

Following her release from prison in March 2005, Martha embarked on a comeback campaign that saw her company return to profitability in 2006. 

Her resilience attracted a new legion of fans who admired her for serving her time and emerging victorious.

Martha’s prison experience also struck a chord with rapper Snoop Dogg, with whom she struck up an unlikely friendship. 

The pair first met in 2008, when Snoop joined Martha to make mashed potatoes on her cooking show, The Martha Stewart Show. 

The duo has since collaborated on several projects, their camaraderie symbolizing Stewart's unexpected, yet impactful, "street cred."

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