President Donald Trump is said to be worth a whopping $3.5 billion, but what can be said of his wife Melania Trump’s financial success?
When Melania married Donald in 2005, her career was already well underway. In fact, the first lady’s career has spanned many different business ventures. She’s even made a career change or two over the years. In all, Melania’s net worth is estimated to be around $50 million. Here we’ll take a look at the different ways Melania Trump has earned money and gained wealth over the years.
Melania has long been admired for her fashion choices and her sense of style. In her modeling days, she appeared on the cover of magazines Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, In Style, Allure, Self, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and New York Magazine. Notably, Vogue featured her on the February 2005 cover in her wedding dress. The following year, she modeled for the magazine again, seven months pregnant and wearing a golden bikini.
In addition, Melania made a cameo in the 2000 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, where she appeared hugging a killer whale. She has also done modeling for Levi’s. Prior to coming to the United States, she also modeled in Milan and Paris.
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Melania played a small role in Ben Stiller’s 2001 fashion world satire movie Zoolander as herself, alongside her future husband. “Look, without Derek Zoolander, male modeling wouldn’t be what it is today,” Donald Trump tells former E! News personality Steve Kmetko in his four-second appearance in the movie. Melania was Donald’s girlfriend at the time they acted in the movie. While Melania doesn’t have a speaking role, she stands next to her husband in the film, wearing a spaghetti strap top and sparkly necklace with a cross.
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3. Melania Timepieces and Jewelry
When Melania moved away from modeling in 2010, she launched her QVC collection “Melania Timepieces and Jewelry.” Items were priced from $30 to $200. She designed the jewelry herself. In 2012, Melania told Elle she found inspiration for the jewelry from traveling and from her lifestyle. The three collections were named after her favorite cities: New York, Palm Beach, and Paris. Her favorite piece is a simple bracelet from the New York collection, she said.
“New York is very business-oriented, for women who are on the go all the time, who need to drop off a child at school and go directly to the office,” Melania told Elle. “Palm Beach is sporty elegance, something you’d wear to play tennis or golf, and even going to the beach and building sandcastles with your child. Paris is a little bit more glamour and sparkle, with lots of diamonds, as I call them.”
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4. Caviar skin care line
Two years after launching her jewelry line, Melania signed a licensing agreement for skin care products made with caviar. The products were sold in high-end department stores. Advertisements for the creams featured quotes from Melania, like, “I created the Melania Skin Care Collection, enriched with vitamins and caviar, to repair, hydrate, and renew the skin.”
Melania even went on her husband’s show, Celebrity Apprentice, to promote her skin care products. However, a year after she signed a contract with New Sunshine to promote and sell the products, the company imploded, and the skin creams have not been sold since.
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5. Celebrity Apprentice
As mentioned, Melania appeared on her husband’s NBC reality show, Celebrity Apprentice to promote her skin care line. In the 2013 episode, teams led by Penn Jillette and Dennis Rodman created a marketing plan for Melania’s products. Things didn’t go so well for Rodman. Trump fired the basketball star after he misspelled Melania’s name on his team’s promotional poster. Other than the marketing she received for her products, whether Melania was paid for appearing on the show is unknown.
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6. Libel lawsuit against Daily Mail
Melania’s net worth also grew after she settled a libel lawsuit against Daily Mail. She filed the suit in September 2016 after the news outlet published an article that stated she had worked as an escort during her modeling days. A judge dismissed the suit in February 2017, but Melania re-filed it in New York, seeking $150 million in damages. The article had appeared online and offline in the summer of 2016 under the headline “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump.” The article alleged Melania “provided services beyond simply modeling.”
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7. First lady of the United States
One might think being first lady of the United States comes along with an official salary. Well, it doesn’t. While her husband earns $400,000 per year for being president, any work Melania does is for free. Past presidents have pontificated on this very fact: Former President Barack Obama said of his wife, “Michelle would point out first ladies get paid nothing. So there’s clearly not equal pay in the White House when it comes to her and me.”
As first lady, Melania has hosted a variety of events. For instance, she co-hosted and spoke at the annual Governor’s Ball at the White House in February 2017. She also hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll with her husband. On International Women’s Day, she gave a speech on the importance of education. There is one particular cause that stands out on Melania’s agenda – more on that next.
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8. Anti-bullying spokesperson
This is an unpaid role, but worthy of mention. Melania Trump has made it her mission as first lady to help put a stop to school bullying. In October 2017, she visited a middle school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she talked with kids about being inclusive with one another. “I think it’s important that we choose kindness and compassion,” she said. Since becoming first lady, Melania has regularly used her platform to speak out against the issue of childhood bullying.
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9. She was born in part of communist Yugoslavia
Melania Trump was born Melanija Knavs in 1970 in Slovenia. NBC reported that her “small industrial hometown,” Sevnica, was part of communist Yugoslavia. The town of 5,000 people bears some similarities to the American Rust Belt communities that helped to elect Donald Trump. Many of Sevnica’s plants have shut down, including the government-owned textile factory where Melania Trump’s mother worked.
During the 1991 collapse of communism, 2 million Slovenian citizens gained independence from Yugoslavia. And as Sevnica emerges from a period of high unemployment, many residents are excited that Melania Trump has become the first lady of the United States.
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10. She can speak many languages
Melania Trump can speak many languages — by some accounts, as many as six. CNN reported that Donald Trump’s wife can speak Slovenian, French, Serbian, German, Italian, and English. People reported in 2009, when Barron Trump was just 3 years old, that he could already converse in Slovenian, English, and French.
The International Business Times pointed out that Melania Trump joins several other first ladies with foreign-language skills. For instance, Louisa Adams could speak Dutch. Pat Nixon could speak some Spanish. Lou Hoover could speak Mandarin Chinese, as could Herbert Hoover. And reportedly, the Hoovers spoke the language in the White House to keep others from eavesdropping on their conversations.
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11. She studied design and architecture
The New York Times learned that Melania Trump left Sevnica in 1985. She went to Ljubljana to attend the Secondary School of Design and Photography. In January 1987, photographer Stane Jerko spotted her and asked whether she wanted to be a model. He sent photos of her to a Slovenian cultural center, which accepted her to a fashion course for models.
After high school, she began and dropped out of architecture school at the University of Ljubljana. She was more focused on modeling, and placed as a runner-up in Jana Magazine’s Slovenian Face of the Year contest in 1992. She began a successful career as a model, primarily in print. Not long after, she Germanized her name to Melania Knauss and launched her career as an international model.
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12. Melania met Donald at a Fashion Week party
Want to know how Melania met Donald? The New Yorker reports Melania Trump met Donald Trump in 1998 at a Fashion Week party in New York. Donald Trump reportedly asked for her number. But because he had arrived with another woman, she refused. Donald Trump persisted. So she took his number instead of giving him hers.
Soon enough, they were an item. Although they broke up temporarily in 2000, they soon reunited. Donald Trump proposed to her on the night of the 2004 Costume Institute Gala. Then, at a lavish 2005 wedding, she became Donald Trump’s wife. Many famous people attended the wedding. In fact, the guest list included Billy Joel, Paul Anka, Kelly Ripa, Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, Shaquille O’Neal, Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum, Sean Combs, and Simon Cowell.
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13. Her father is a little bit like Donald Trump
Childhood friends told The New York Times that Melania Trump’s father has a “larger-than-life personality.” In fact, that personality reminds them of Donald Trump. Viktor Knavs belonged to the Communist Party, which the Times characterizes as “an exclusive club whose members sometimes joined because of career ambitions as much as ideology.”
Knavs worked as a traveling car salesman. And according to the Times, childhood friends of Melania Trump said he carries himself “in a self-assured way that now reminded them of Mr. Trump.”
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14. Her parents don’t understand Donald Trump’s politics
Another interesting detail unearthed by The New York Times? Even though Melania Trump is now Donald Trump’s wife, her parents don’t necessarily identify with, or even understand, Donald Trump’s particular brand of politics. According to the Times, Melania Trump’s father complained to his longtime friend about Donald Trump’s “whiplash-inducing inconsistency.” Knavs said he didn’t understand his son-in-law’s desire for the presidency.
Additional reporting by Jess Bolluyt.
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