Brad Pitt, Sports Illustrated Cover

Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated

So far in his career, Brad Pitt's done all the right things: He's never played Superman; he's never graced the box of Madden NFL

But has he pushed his curse-free luck by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Conspiracy Corner, Comic Con 2009 Brick

For those not in the know, the Sports Illustrated cover jinx holds that bad things happen to those who appear on Sports Illustrated covers. Since SI covers sports, the jinx typically concerns sports figures and the hamstrings they pull and/or the losing streaks they endure in the wake of their SI photo shoots.

Unlike most pop-culture curses, the SI cover jinx has a reputable booster: SI. In 2001, the magazine went back through about 50 years' worth of issues, and found that a "demonstrable misfortune or decline in performance" occurred in cover subjects about 37.2 percent of the time. Asked point-blank by CNN if the cover jinx was real, the article's author said yes.

Enter Pitt. 

The star is on SI's Sept. 26 edition cover in an act of promotion for his new baseball movie, Moneyball, due out Friday. 

The film, at least, looks to be safe.

Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said via email that he expects Moneyball to open at No. 1 at the weekend box office.

As for Pitt, by SI's stats, his hamstrings and/or relationship with Angelina Jolie do stand a chance of getting tweaked. By Sam McNerney's thinking, though, everything will be just fine.

McNerney blogs about psychology and neuroscience at Why We Reason, where he recently debunked the SI jinx. He holds that the curse is really just a reflection of the fact that you get on the SI cover for extraordinary feats that are almost always followed by ordinary ones. Others have called this the "regression to the mean."

Or, in plainer English, you're not jinxed, you're just not built for the long haul. At the same time, if you are built for the long haul, then you're going to be fine, SI cover or no.

"There are some actors and actresses who are so popular they can't go back down again," McNerney told us. "With someone like Brad Pitt, I would say breathe easy."

To McNerney, Pitt is up there with sports icons Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and Wayne Gretzky.

"They didn't have an SI jinx," he said, "because their average was greatness."

Just to be on the safe side, though, Pitt should totally never try to win a Best Actress Oscar.

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