Melania Trump is a Slovenian model and former first lady of the United States who has a net worth of $50 million. Melania is best known for being the third wife of Donald Trump. They married in 2005.
Melania played herself in the 2001 film “Zoolander” and made appearances on her husband’s NBC reality series “The Apprentice” from 2004 to 2015. Trump modeled in Paris and Milan before moving to America in 1996 to pursue modeling in York City, and she has graced the covers of several magazines, including “Vogue,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” “InStyle,” “Vanity Fair,” and “Glamour.” In 2016, she received criticism after a speech she gave at the Republican National Convention appeared to have plagiarized parts of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention speech.
Early Life: Melania Trump was born Melanija Knavs (which was Germanized as Melania Knauss) on April 26, 1970, in Novo Mesto, SR Slovenia. Her mother, Amalija, was a patternmaker for a children’s clothing manufacturer, and her father, Viktor, worked as a manager for car and motorcycle dealerships. Melania would often take part in fashion shows for her mother’s employer, Jutranjka. She grew up in Sevnica with sister Ines, and she has a half-brother that she has never met. Though Viktor was a member of the League of Communists of Slovenia, which embraced state atheism, Melania and Ines were baptized as Catholics. She studied at Ljubljana’s Secondary School of Design and Photography and enrolled at the University of Ljubljan to study design and architecture but dropped out after a year.
Career: Melania started modeling at the age of 5, and at 16, she began posing for fashion photographer Stane Jerko and appearing in commercials. She signed with a Milan modeling agency when she was 18, and was runner-up in “Jana Magazine’s” 1992 “Look of the Year” competition. In 1995, Trump met Paolo Zampolli, the co-owner of Metropolitan Models, and he offered her representation if she came to the U.S. After moving to Manhattan the following year, she lived in a Zeckendorf Towers apartment with photographer Matthew Atanian, an arrangement made by Zampolli. In January of that year, the French men’s magazine “Max” featured sexually explicit photos of Melania with another model, and she appeared on the cover of the January 2000 issue of “GQ” wearing nothing but diamond jewelry.
In 2010, Trump launched a jewelry collection with QVC called Melania Timepieces & Jewelry, and she created the Melania Skin Care Collection, but in 2017, the companies that manufactured the products cut ties with her. A 2016 financial filing revealed that her business ventures made $15,000 – $50,000 in royalties that year.
First Lady of the United States: Melania (also known by the Secret Service code name “Muse”) became the first lady of the United States on January 20, 2017. She did not move into the White House until June 11th due to her son’s schooling at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. During her time as First Lady, Melania had a staff of 11 and was only the second first lady to be born outside of the United States (the first was London native Louisa Adams). Melania’s first White House event was a March 2017 International Women’s Day luncheon where she spoke about gender equality and her experiences as a female immigrant. During her time as first lady, Melania focused on the prevention of online bullying with her “Be Best” campaign, a move that earned criticism from many as a result of her husband’s consistently hostile behavior on Twitter.
Trump helped plan an April 2018 state dinner honoring French president Emmanuel Macron, and she visited the National Gallery of Art with his wife, Brigitte, the day before the event. In October of that year, Melania embarked on a solo tour of four African countries; during the trip, she bottle-fed baby elephants, spent a day at a school in Malawi, and visited an orphanage in Nairobi. The Trump administration’s treatment of illegal immigrants has resulted in many children being separated from their parents, and Melania spoke about it in June 2018, saying, “We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.” She stated that she wants to see “successful immigration reform” but doesn’t like the separation aspect of the administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. On June 17, 2018, Melania visited the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter in McAllen, Texas, where 55 immigrant children were being kept; she met with social workers and medical staff and said that she wanted to help reunite the children with their families.
Personal Life: Melania met Donald Trump at a party in 1998, and she married him on January 22, 2005, wearing a $200,000 Christian Dior gown. The couple welcomed son Barron on March 20, 2006, and he was baptized at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, the site of Melania and Donald’s nuptials. Melania has been a permanent U.S. resident since 2001, and she officially became an American citizen in 2006. In 2018, she was treated for a benign kidney condition, undergoing an embolization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
In February 2017, Trump filed a $150 million lawsuit against the “Daily Mail,” a British tabloid, for publishing an article that accused her of working as an escort during her time as a model. Melania claimed that the article caused her to miss out on “multimillion dollar business relationships,” but she later amended the lawsuit to focus on her emotional distress instead. In April 2017, the “Daily Mail” retracted the statements made in the article, and the lawsuit was settled for $2.9 million.
Real Estate: In January 2016, Melania paid $1.5 million for a 1-bedroom apartment on the 33rd floor of Trump Tower. At the time of the purchase, the Trumps already owned a huge penthouse that took up the 66th, 67th, and 68th floors of the building, and there has been speculation that Melania bought the 1,052 square foot apartment to use as a library.