When Donald Trump met a model named Melania Knauss in 1998, everything changed. Take a look back at the ups and downs of the romance between the former president and FLOTUS.
From a chance encounter at the Kit Kat Club, to four years in the White House, and a dramatic exit to Mar-A-Lago. Melania and Donald Trump have been together for 20 years, and despite some reports that Melania’s “trapped” in that marriage, the two are thick as thieves. Take a look back at their relationship, from the early days of their romance, to today, post-presidency.
How Did Melania & Donald Trump Meet?
Melania and Donald first met in September 1998 at a party thrown by their mutual friend, Metropolitan Models co-owner Paolo Zampolli. A gorgeous model named Melania Knauss, who had just immigrate to the United States from Slovenia two years earlier caught the real estate mogul’s eye. Donald was still in the process of divorcing wife Marla Maples when he and Melania began an on-again, off-again relationship, though they had been separated since 1997.
Donald and Melania’s new relationship was instant tabloid fodder. The couple took part in a controversial phone interview with The Howard Stern Show in November 1999, in which they discussed their sex life in graphic detail. Howard even asked what Melania was wearing, and she said she was “almost” nude. They broke up in 2000, only to get back together a short while later.
Their Extravagant 2005 Wedding
Donald asked Melania to marry him in 2004 with a $1.5 million, 15-carat diamond ring. They tied the knot in January 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida, holding their reception — where else? — at Mar-a-Lago. Melania stunned in a $100,000 couture wedding gown designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior, which she later wore on the cover of Vogue in a feature called “The Dress of the Year”. The designer gown was made from 300 feet of satin and embroidered with 1,500 crystal rhinestones and pearls. Famous friends of Donald made up the guest list, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, his future political rival.
Donald Has An Affair With Stormy Daniels
Donald and Melania welcomed their first child together, a son named Barron, in March 2006. It was revealed in 2018 that Donald slept with porn star Stormy Daniels at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe when Barron was just three months old. When Stormy (real name Stephanie Clifford) wanted to come forward in October 2016, a month before the presidential election, Donald instructed his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay her $130,000 in hush money as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
Stormy claimed that after their sexual encounter, she and Donald would talk “every 10 days” or so, and meet up several more times throughout 2006 and 2007. She attempted to come forward about the affair in 2011 to InTouch, but the magazine didn’t publish after allegedly being threatened with a lawsuit from Donald’s camp. When Stormy came forward in 2018, it sparked a back and forth legal dispute. Donald vehemently denied evening knowing Stormy.
Donald Wins The 2016 Presidential Election
After years of threatening to do so, Donald ran for president in the 2016 election — and won. The long shot candidate started his campaign with racist rhetoric, calling Mexicans “rapists and murderers,” and had the full support of his doting wife by his side. Remember, she spread birtherism lies about Barack Obama just as much as her husband did. Melania’s time as First Lady started with her plagiarizing an old Michelle Obama speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
As FLOTUS, Melania started the oft-criticized “Be Best” campaign, which aimed to stop cyber bullying — even though Donald was one of the most notorious cyber bullies in the world. She didn’t help her cause by wearing a jacket that said “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” on the back while visiting migrant children separated from their families at the border. Donald’s presidency, of course, ended with a record two impeachments and global shame.
Their Relationship In The White House
Four years of awkward PDA between the president and first lady led to cries of “Free Melania!” from people convinced she was trapped in the marriage. After all, it didn’t seem like she really wanted to be at the White House. Swatting Donald’s hands away, cringing at his hugs, standing a little too far apart from him at photo ops… turns out, it wasn’t the case. Donald and Melania actually have a pretty loving relationship behind the scenes, according to her former best friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.
Stephanie told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that Melania’s the furthest thing from a captive in the relationship. “I had to learn the hard way that she is a Trump,” Stephanie lamented, adding that the couple “actually have a very close relationship,” and that she’s seen some pretty “seductive gazes between the two. “They discuss things very openly, but strategically,” she said. “There is no screaming, yelling, fighting, at least I never witnessed it. There is a strategy in this relationship. It’s not just a transactional marriage, it’s a marriage that is done where everything is planned out.”
The End Of Donald’s Presidency
The Trumps emerged from the White House in 2021 completely and utterly scathed. After Donald lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, Melania seemingly checked out from her FLOTUS duties, only appearing in public five times. With just days to go before the 2021 inauguration, Trump helped incite an insurrection at the Capitol, and was impeached for the second time of his presidency — something that has never happened in American history. In fact, there have only been four impeachments total.
Nevertheless, they skipped town with smiles on their faces, Trump vowing to be back “In some form,” and wishing his supporters “good luck.” Melania said during their departure from Joint Base Andrews that being first lady was “the honor of a lifetime.” Days prior, she released a baffling statement condemning the actions at the Capitol, but first hitting back at the media for damaging her reputation.
“There has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me –- from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,”she wrote. Now, the Trumps have moved back to where their marriage began: Mar-A-Lago.