ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – St. Joseph, Michigan native and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model Kate Upton is still the talk of her hometown. Not only because of her modeling career, but also because she's the niece of Congressman Fred Upton. So what is his reaction to having a cover girl in the family?
In St. Joseph, the Upton name is all too common. The Uptons started what would become Whirlpool Corporation. And for the past two and a half decades St. Joe native Fred Upton has served in the United States Congress.
But for the past week, it's been all about Kate.
"The headline in the local paper said ‘All Eyes on Upton (Kate, not Fred).’ You get on Google, hit ‘Upton’ and she's got the first couple of pages now,” said Fred Upton, Michigan's 6th District Republican congressman.
Standing in front of a sign congratulating the 19-year-old model at the intersection of Main and Broad Streets, Congressman Upton told WSBT he was proud of his niece's accomplishments.
"As all of my colleagues learned about this on the House floor this week they said, 'Fred, are you adopted? What's the deal?'" Upton said. "But we're very proud of her and we're very anxious to see her career take off."
Kate was born in St. Joseph, but moved to Florida when she was a child. But those who knew her back when haven't forgotten the little girl who grew up to be the front page star. Larry Schuler, owner of Schu's Grill and Bar, was her next door neighbor years ago. All he has to say is congrats.
"What a wonderful lady that she is, and I know her success is not just based on her beauty but her wisdom," he said.
"This doesn't happen in any community, that's for sure,” Congressman Upton said. “And as you can see it's nice the city put up that sign for her. A little ‘Attaboy’ for her."
Kate has another local tie: Jeff Upton, her father, is Niles High School's athletic director.