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This GTA 5 Model Isn't Who You Think It Is

The "Grand Theft Auto" series is have never been known for pulling punches. The franchise is known for asking players to do terrible things in service of the story and over the top gameplay, but beyond that, it's a series that lends itself to a wider mythology beyond the games themselves. 

There are tons of wild "GTA" theories out there, as well as a great deal of canceled content, and players have speculated about and spread rumors concerning these things over the years. Mix those together, and you get the story about the "GTA" bikini girl, a woman who appears in a loading screen for "GTA 5" and whose identity has led to many a discussion online.

The "GTA" series has welcomed a number of prominent actors and celebs into its casts over the years, from Ray Liotta to Dr. Dre. But for every star with their name plastered all over the marketing, there are even more models and performers who go unnamed. Naturally, fans want to know who these people are, and the bikini model is no exception.

Some truly believe they know who she really is. Others think she's not actually based on any one in particular, but was instead designed as a tribute of sorts to another star, while others think she was created to mock someone in the public eye. The vast majority of these guesses are just flat-out wrong, but some have put forward some rather convincing photographic evidence. The woman who actually inspired the "Grand Theft Auto 5" bikini girl, however, may not be quite as well-known as some of the stars fans have mentioned. But she provided the proof that she did, indeed, serve as the model for the bikini girl found in the game. Now let's find out who she is.

Who some believe GTA 5's bikini girl is

When "GTA 5" fans dug up a photo of model/actress Kate Upton and put it next to the game's bikini girl, it looked like the case was closed (per Attack of the Fanboy). The resemblance was so staggering — and the pose so similar to the one used by the woman in the iconic "Grand Theft Auto 5" loading screen — that it really seemed as though Rockstar was basing this character off of Kate Upton. If Kate Upton was not herself the character, then surely Rockstar must have seen that photo and tried to recreate it in the game's art style, right? Not at all.

The bikini girl is not Kate Upton. She is also not Justine Ezarik — better known as iJustine on the internet — nor is she Lindsay Lohan, though Lohan reportedly tried to sue because she felt bikini girl was modeled around her likeness. The suit would eventually be thrown out, much to Lohan's chagrin (per Forbes). 

So with all of those major theories thrown out, we finally get down to the truth. The model behind the "GTA 5" bikini girl is someone else entirely.

Who GTA 5's bikini girl actually is

According to Daily Dot — and the detective work of a bunch of fans on Reddit — the woman who served as the inspiration for the "GTA 5" bikini girl is model Shelby Welinder. And if you're having doubts, you only have to consider the best piece of evidence that's been presented in this case. As Daily Dot reported, back when the Nowgamer website still existed, that site hosted an image of her Rockstar Games invoice. That modeling gig was more than just appearing in an ad and then in a loading screen, by the way: She also reportedly got her name in the credits for "Grand Theft Auto 5."

These days, Shelby Welinder stays busy with a number of different projects, which apparently leaves her with very little time for interacting with social media. Her Twitter account, which is referenced in the Daily Dot piece, is no longer online, and an Instagram account bearing her name seems to actually be run by a fan of her appearance in "Grand Theft Auto 5." To date, Welinder's most recent credit on her IMDb page is from 2018, but that does not mean that she's slowed down one bit. She has been much more active as a journalist in recent years, with bylines at outlets such as Conscious Magazine and The Evening Standard.

And beyond all that, she earned a spot in video game history via this modeling role because it inspired so much chatter on the web. So now you know the real story behind the "GTA 5" bikini girl. The next time someone brings up the topic online, you'll be able to set the record straight.