Trump in 2016
April 26, 1970
Novo Mesto, Slovenia, Yugoslavia
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Spouse(s)||Donald Trump (m. 2005)|
Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs;[a] April 26, 1970; Germanized to Melania Knauss) is a former model and the wife of American businessman and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. Born in Yugoslavia in the Socialist Republic of Slovenia (today the independent country of Slovenia), she became a permanent resident of the United States in 2001 and a citizen in 2006.
Trump was born in Novo Mesto in southeastern Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) on April 26, 1970. Her father, Viktor Knavs, who managed car and motorcycle dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer, and was a member of the Slovenian Communist Party, came from the nearby town of Radeče. Her mother, Amalija (née Ulčnik), came from the village of Raka and was a patternmaker at the children's clothing manufacturer Jutranjka in Sevnica. She has a sister, Ines, and an older half-brother, whom she reportedly has never met, from her father's previous relationship.
She grew up in a modest apartment in a concrete housing block in Sevnica, in Slovenia's Lower Sava Valley. When she was a teenager, the family moved to a two-story house near Sevnica and used a high-rise apartment in Ljubljana.
Immigration to the United States
Trump, through her lawyer Michael Wildes, has indicated that she first entered the United States on a business visitor visa in August 1996. She obtained an H-1B visa in October 1996. After that, she regularly returned to Slovenia to obtain a series of four more one-year work visas because, at the time, one-year visas were all that were permitted under the U.S. agreement with Slovenia. She obtained a green card and became a lawful permanent resident in 2001, applying as a model of “extraordinary ability”. She obtained U.S. citizenship in 2006, the year after her marriage.
Melania Trump began her modeling career at age 16 and at age 17 posed for Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko. At 18, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan, Italy. She was named runner-up in the 1992 Jana Magazine "Look of the Year" contest, held in Ljubljana, which promised its top three contestants an international modeling contract.
After attending the University of Ljubljana and leaving after her freshman year, she worked as a model for fashion houses in Milan and Paris, before relocating to New York City in 1996, her contract and visa negotiated by Italian businessman Paolo Zampolli. She subsequently appeared on the covers of Harper's Bazaar (Bulgaria), Ocean Drive, In Style Weddings, New York Magazine, Avenue, Allure, Vanity Fair (Italy), Vogue (following her marriage to Donald Trump), and GQ (UK). She was featured as a bikini model in the 2000 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. As a model, she was associated with Irene Marie Management Group and Donald Trump's Trump Model Management.
In the 2000s, she appeared in an advertisement for Aflac insurance in which she and the Aflac mascot, a duck, voiced at the time by comedian Gilbert Gottfried, exchange personalities via a Frankenstein-like mad experiment.
Marriage to Donald Trump
After moving to New York City in 1996, Melania met Donald Trump at a Fashion Week party in New York City in September 1998, while he was still married to, but separated from, Marla Maples; Donald attended the event with another date, Celina Midelfart, and Melania initially refused to give Donald her phone number. Melania broke off the relationship shortly after it began, but the couple reconciled after a few months. Their relationship gained attention after a 1999 interview on The Howard Stern Show. In 2000, Melania appeared with Donald while he campaigned for that year's Reform Party presidential nomination. Their relationship gained additional publicity after the 2004 launch of Donald's business-oriented reality television show, The Apprentice. Donald described their long courtship in 2005: "We literally have never had an argument, forget about the word 'fight' ... We just are very compatible. We get along."
After becoming engaged in 2004, Donald and Melania were married on January 22, 2005, at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception in the ballroom at Donald's Mar-a-Lago estate.
The event was attended by celebrities such as Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Rudy Giuliani, Heidi Klum, Star Jones, P. Diddy, Shaquille O'Neal, Barbara Walters, Conrad Black, Regis Philbin, Simon Cowell, Kelly Ripa, then-Senator Hillary Clinton, and former president Bill Clinton. At the reception, Billy Joel serenaded the crowd with "Just the Way You Are" and supplied new lyrics about Trump to the tune of "The Lady Is a Tramp".
In March 2006, Melania gave birth to a son named Barron William Trump. Donald suggested his first name and Melania his middle name. As an infant, Barron reportedly occupied his own floor in the Trumps' apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan, but often slept in a crib in his parents' bedroom. He plays golf with his father and is reported to be fluent in Slovene. He is said to like wearing a suit and tie, and Melania's nickname for him is "Mini-Donald".
Role in 2016 U.S. presidential election
In November 2015, when asked about her husband's presidential campaign, Trump said: "I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America. He loves the American people and he wants to help them." When asked by The New York Times in 1999 what her role would be if Donald Trump were to become president, Trump replied: "I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him."
An anti-Donald Trump PAC in March 2016 published an attack ad featuring a nude photo of Trump that was published in 2000 as part of a British GQ magazine photoshoot. The photograph shows her handcuffed to a briefcase, lying on a fur blanket aboard Donald Trump's private jet.
In July 2016, Trump's official website was redirected to Trump.com. On Twitter, she stated that her site was outdated and did not "accurately reflect [her] current business and professional interests." This change came after it was widely noted by the media that the website had falsely claimed for more than 10 years that she had a degree in architecture and design from the University of Ljubljana. Her biography in the 2016 Republican National Convention official program also incorrectly stated that she had obtained a degree in Slovenia.
On July 18, 2016, Trump gave a speech on the first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention. The speech contained a paragraph that was nearly identical to a paragraph of Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. When asked about the speech, Trump said she wrote the speech herself "with as little help as possible". Two days later, Trump staff writer Meredith McIver took responsibility and apologized for the "confusion".
On September 1, 2016, her attorneys filed defamation lawsuits against British tabloid the Daily Mail and Webster Tarpley, a Maryland political blogger. Both had published allegations from other sources that she worked as an escort for a gentlemen's club in Italy in the 1990s. Tarpley published a retraction and an apology on August 22. The Daily Mail published a retraction and apology after the suit was filed.
- The Slovenian pronunciation is [mɛːlaˈnija ˈknaːws]
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Her Web site states that she obtained a degree in architecture and design from the University of Ljubljana when in fact she dropped out in her first year.
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