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Melania Trump

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Melania Trump
Donald and Melania Trump (cropped).jpg
Trump in 2016
Born Melanija Knavs
(1970-04-26) April 26, 1970 (age 46)
Novo Mesto, Slovenia, Yugoslavia
Ethnicity Slovenian
Occupation Model, fashion designer[citation needed]
Years active 1986–present
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Donald Trump (m. 2005)
Children Barron Trump
Donald Trump, Jr. (stepson)
Ivanka Trump (stepdaughter)
Eric Trump (stepson)
Tiffany Trump (stepdaughter)

Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs,[1][a] April 26, 1970; germanized to Melania Knauss) is the third wife of American billionaire real estate developer and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.[2] She is a Slovene-American jewelry and watch designer[citation needed] and former model. Born in Slovenia, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, she became a permanent resident of the United States in 2001 and a citizen in 2006.[3] She actively campaigned for her husband during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Early life

Knauss was born in Novo Mesto in southeastern Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) on April 26, 1970.[4] Her father, Viktor Knavs, who managed car and motorcycle dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer,[5][6] and was a member of the Slovenian Communist Party, came from the nearby town of Radeče. Her mother, Amalija (Ulčnik),[5] came from the village of Raka[7] and was a patternmaker at the children's clothing manufacturer Jutranjka in Sevnica.[5][8] Knauss has a sister, Ines,[9] and an older half-brother, whom she has never met,[10] from her father's previous relationship.[5]

Knauss grew up in a modest apartment in a concrete housing block in Sevnica, in Slovenia's Lower Sava Valley.[1] When she was a teenager, the family moved to a two-story house near Sevnica[11] and used a high-rise apartment in Ljubljana.[5] Knauss attended the Secondary School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana.[12]

Knauss studied at the University of Ljubljana for one year before dropping out, though, prior to July 28, 2016, her website stated she had obtained a degree in architecture and design there,[13][14][15][16] and made the claim since 2006 (10 years).[17] Her biography in the 2016 Republican National Convention official program also incorrectly stated that she had obtained a degree in Slovenia.[16][18]

She speaks five languages: Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German.[19]


Knauss began her modeling career at age 16 and at age 17 posed for Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko.[20] At 18 she signed with a modeling agency in Milan, Italy.[citation needed] 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.[5][21]

After attending the University of Ljubljana and leaving after her freshman year,[22] she then worked as a model for fashion houses in Milan and Paris, France, before relocating to New York City in 1996,[2] her contract and visa negotiated by Italian businessman Paolo Zampolli.[5] Working with photographers including Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier, and Mario Testino,[6][23] she subsequently appeared on the covers of Harper's Bazaar (Bulgaria), Ocean Drive, In Style Weddings, New York Magazine, Avenue, Allure, Vanity Fair (Italy) and Vogue (following her marriage to Trump), and GQ (UK),[24] She was featured as a bikini model in the 2000 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.[25][26] As a model, she was associated with Irene Marie Management Group and Donald Trump's Trump Model Management.[27]

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.[citation needed]

Marriage to Donald Trump

Melania and Donald Trump at the Oscar de la Renta Fashion Show in New York City, 2006

After moving to New York City in 1996,[28] Knauss 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;[1][29] Trump attended the event with another date, Celina Midelfart, and Knauss initially refused to give Trump her phone number.[21] Knauss broke off the relationship shortly after it began, but the couple reconciled after a few months.[5] Their relationship gained attention after a 1999 interview on The Howard Stern Show.[30] In 2000, Knauss appeared with Trump while he campaigned for the Reform Party 2000 presidential nomination.[30] Their relationship gained additional publicity after the 2004 launch of Trump's successful business-oriented reality television show, The Apprentice. Donald Trump 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."[29]

Trump in 2011

After becoming engaged in 2004, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss 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 Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.[31]

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.[31][32] 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".[31]

The Trumps' wedding ceremony and reception were widely covered by the media.[28] Trump wore a $200,000 dress made by John Galliano of the house of Christian Dior.[31] The cake at the reception was a 50-pound orange Grand Marnier chocolate truffle cake, with a Grand Marnier butter-cream filling, covered with 3,000 roses created by the chef at Mar-a-Lago.[31]

In 2006, Trump gave birth to a son named Barron William Trump. Donald suggested his first name and Melania his middle name.[33] 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.[33] He plays golf with his father and is reported to be fluent in Slovenian.[34] He is said to like wearing a suit and tie, and Melania's nickname for him is "Mini-Donald".[6]

Trump and her husband are often seen and photographed together at New York City society events and receptions.[35]

In 2015, 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."[36] When asked by The New York Times what her role would be if Donald were to become president, Trump replied: "I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him."[6]

During Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, an anti-Trump PAC published an attack ad featuring a nude photo of Melania Trump that was published in 2000 as part of a British GQ magazine photoshoot.[37] The photograph shows her handcuffed to a briefcase, lying on a fur blanket aboard Donald's private jet.[1][24][38]

Republican National Convention speech plagiarism controversy

"Comparing Melania Trump's Speech in 2016 with Michelle Obama's in 2008"

On July 18, 2016, Melania 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.[39][40][41] When asked about the speech, Melania Trump said she wrote the speech herself, "I wrote it with as little help as possible".[42] Two days later, Trump staff writer Meredith McIver took responsibility and apologized for the "confusion". The Trump family declined her offer of resignation.[43]

On July 20, 2016, McIver issued the following statement:

In working with Melania on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.[44][45]


  1. ^ The Slovenian pronunciation is [mɛːlaˈnija ˈknaːws].


  1. ^ a b c d Jordan, Mary (September 30, 2015). "Meet Melania Trump, a new model for first lady". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Charles, Marissa (August 16, 2015). "Melania Trump would be a First Lady for the Ages". New York Post. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (2016-01-06). "Melania Trump's American Dream". Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ Lauren Collins (9 May 2016). "The Model American: Melania Trump is the exception to her husband’s nativist politics.". The New Yorker. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Ioffe, Julia (April 27, 2016). "Melania Trump on Her Rise, Her Family Secrets, and Her True Political Views: "Nobody Will Ever Know"". GQ. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Greenhouse, Emily (August 17, 2015). "Vitamins & Caviar: Getting to Know Melania Trump". Bloomberg Politics. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Tednik CELJAN". Retrieved November 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Melania Trump: Slovenian Model Legend". 13 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Louise Dewast, A Glimpse of Melania Trump's Childhood in Slovenia, ABC News (March 7, 2016).
  10. ^ Rapkin, Mickey (May 17, 2016). "Lady and the Trump". Du Jour. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Melania Trump's Past Took Her From A River Town In Slovenia To Trump Tower". The Huffington Post. February 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Jason Horowitz, Melania Trump: From Small-Town Slovenia to Doorstep of White House, New York Times (July 18, 2016).
  13. ^ "Biography". via the Internet Archive. 29 May 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  14. ^ Glenn Kessler & Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Fact-checking the second day of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Washington Post (June 19, 2016) ("the University of Ljubljana confirmed that Trump dropped out of college before obtaining a degree.").
  15. ^ Lauren Collins (9 May 2016). "The Model American: Melania Trump is the exception to her husband’s nativist politics.". The New Yorker. 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. 
  16. ^ a b Joey Morona, Melania Trump didn't graduate from college as bio claims, reports say, Cleveland Plain Dealer (July 19, 2016) ("Her bio on her official website states she graduated with a degree in design and architecture from 'University in Slovenia.' It's a claim that's been repeated by the Trump campaign and the RNC itself, in the convention's official program. However, the Slovenian writers of her biography wrote that Trump actually dropped out from the University of Ljubljana after her freshman year. Politico's Julia Ioffe wrote the same thing in a profile of the presumptive Republican nominee's wife that appeared in GQ back in April."
  17. ^ "Bio". via the Internet Archive. 8 March 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2016. 
  18. ^ O'Donnell, Katy (July 18, 2016). "RNC program flubs Melania Trump's biography". Politico. "The RNC refers to a college degree, but Trump left college after one year."
  19. ^ CBS News: "Five things to know about Melania Trump" by Emily Schulthris March 24, 2016
  20. ^ Kocijancic, Filip (July 3, 2014). "Stane Jerko: Kako sem odkril Melanio Trump" (in Slovenian). SIOLnet. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Collins, Lauren (May 9, 2016). "The Model American". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  22. ^ Wilkie, Christina (2016-07-19). "Melania Trump's Claims She Graduated From College Are About As Credible As Her Speech Last Night". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-20. 
  23. ^ Trebay, Guy (September 30, 2015). "Melania Trump, the Silent Partner". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  24. ^ a b "The Future First Lady? See Melania Trump's Nude Photo Shoot". British GQ. March 4, 2016 [originally published in January 2000]. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Melania Knauss - Photos". The FMD. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  26. ^ Holz, George. "Melania Knauss, FHM, December 1, 2000". Getty Images. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Melania Knauss". The FMD. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Melania Knauss Biography". Star Pulse. Retrieved May 2, 2011. 
  29. ^ a b King, Larry (May 17, 2005). "Interview with Donald, Melania Trump". CNN. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  30. ^ a b Wadler, Joyce (December 2, 1999). "A Supermodel at the White House?". New Straits Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  31. ^ a b c d e Stoynoff, Natasha (January 23, 2005). "Donald Trump Weds Melania Knauss". People. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  32. ^ Gillin, Joshua (July 21, 2015). "The Clintons really did attend Donald Trump's 2005 wedding". Politifact (Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald). Retrieved August 21, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b Schneider, Karen S. (May 1, 2006). "Billion Dollar Baby: He Has Mom's Eyes, Dad's Lips, His Own Floor in Trump Tower and Doting Parents: Welcome to the World of Barron William Trump". People. Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  34. ^ Katz, Celeste (September 3, 2015). "Trump still questioning Jeb Bush for using Spanish". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  35. ^ Navarro, Desiree. "Donald Trump Hosts the Opening Night Reception of Veranda: New York's Best at Trump Park Avenue". Getty Images. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Barbara Walters Is Shocked that Melania Trump Is Smart Because She's Also Beautiful",, November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2015
  37. ^ Ridge, Sophy (2016-03-23). "Naked photo row: Donald Trump's chest-beating macho politics can only have one winner". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-03-24. 
  38. ^ Baker, Debbi (March 24, 2016). "Trump threatens Cruz over naked Melania photo". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved March 24, 2016. 
  39. ^ Tumulty, Karen; Costa, Robert; DelReal, Jose (July 19, 2016). "Scrutiny of Melania Trump's speech follows plagiarism allegations". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  40. ^ Bump, Philip (July 19, 2016). "Melania Trump's speech appears to have cribbed from Michelle Obama's in 2008". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  41. ^ Haberman, Maggie; Rappeport, Alan; Healy, Patrick (July 19, 2016). "Melania Trump's Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama's in 2008". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  42. ^ Stump, Scott. "Melania Trump on convention speech: 'I wrote it with as little help as possible'". Today. July 19, 2016.
  43. ^
  44. ^ The Trump Organization. Letter. Meredith McIver. July 20, 2016.
  45. ^ Haberman, Maggie (July 20, 2016). "Melania Trump’s Speechwriter Takes Responsibility for Lifted Remarks". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 

External links