Who was Donald Trump before he won the presidential race and became the 45th President of the United States? He had been working as a real estate businessman, but we bet that you already knew that. Before that, he was just a young man from Queens. If we want to truly understand this man, it is a good idea to learn more about his grandpa who started the family fortune. He then passed on the torch to Fred, Donald’s’ dad. When it was time for Donald to take the reins, he expanded the family fortune some more! Let us find out who the POTUS is.
A Little Boy
Fred Trump and Mary Anne MacLeod welcomed their fourth child Donald John Trump on June 14, 1946. The couple became man and wife a decade before this event. He entered the world in the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens. On his dad’s side, he had German ancestry. He had Scottish on his mom’s side. His grandpa Frederick moved to the United States in 1885 at the tender age of 16 and only got citizenship in 1892. He had been a great businessman and started the family fortune with his “boomtown” restaurants and boarding houses. Donald uploaded this photo of himself as a kid on Facebook as a throwback. He added a caption that read, “Who knew this innocent kid would grow into a monster?” In case you were confused by that statement, he was only trying to deliver a joke!
The Trump family earned a lot of money with the success of Donald Trump’s grandpa. In 1902, he got married to Elisabeth Christ and they moved to New York in 1905. In the same year, Fred Trump was born. He was only 15 years old when he started to help out at the family business. In 1923, he and his mom started E. Trump & Son, which is a business operating in Brooklyn and Queens. In 1936, Fred got married to Mary Anne MacLeod. They went on to have five kids between them. Even as a young boy, Donald had a tendency to break the rules. This photo shows him with his siblings: Fred Jr, Elizabeth, Maryanne, and Robert.
Donald Trump had been a student at the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten up to seventh grade. It is a college prep school in Queens. However, his parents decided to transfer him to the New York Military Academy in Cornwall when he was 13 years old. They decided to punish him after they learned that he frequently visited Manhattan without first asking for permission. Donald was a popular kid in his new school. Look at this photo that he uploaded to Facebook. It came with this caption: “#TBT My confirmation picture at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, N.Y.”
Love of Sports
When he was studying at the New York Military Academy, he tried his hand at various sports. Standing at 6’2” tall, he dabbled in tennis, golf, squash, and football. School pictures have also revealed that he was a member of the varsity baseball team. He eventually lost interest in many of these sports, although it looked like he stayed passionate about a few of them!
When he was studying at the NYMA, he had been on the football team. This makes sense if you know that he bought a football team of his own at one point. Not only that, but he also tried to run an American football league. It was supposed to be a competitor of the National Football League.
Here is another photo that he shared on his Facebook page. The caption read, “#TBT Myself with mother and father at New York Military Academy. See, I can be very military. High rank!” He might have said that he was “very military,” but the truth was that he was deferred from army service not just once but five times! Most of them were for the years he spent in college. However, the fifth one came after a bone spur diagnosis. It is said that this might not have been entirely true. The daughter of the man to diagnose him said that it was made as a “favor” because Fred Trump was the landlord of the podiatrist!
The Beat Of His Own Drum
As you can see, Donald Trump is a big fan of throwback photos. This one shows him donning his New York Military Academy uniform. Even though he called himself “very military” in the past, there is no record of his military service. He has also gotten into quite a bit of trouble after his criticism of John McCain. The former U.S. Senator had been a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Trump brushed off claims that McCain was a war hero. He even went as far as to say, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
In May 1964, Donald Trump graduated from the New York Military Academy. Later that year, he started to attend Fordham University. Two years later, he left to spend his remaining two years of college at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1968, he finished his economics degree from the prestigious institution. This photo came from his high school yearbook. After he made it known that he was going to run in the elections and criticized John McCain, the New York Daily News posted this photo of him on the front page. It mocked the medals on his uniform by saying that they were probably his award for “being neat.”
Look at this photo of Donald Trump during his graduation from Wharton. The man beside him is his father, Fred Trump. He talked about how his dad kept the family business going with the construction and sale of “thousands of houses, barracks, and apartments” in New York City. Donald was named the president of E. & Trump & Son three years after this photo was taken. He also made the decision to rebrand the company under a new name: the Trump Organization.
Look at this photo that he shared on Facebook. The caption read, “#TBT With my father, Fred Trump, in Brooklyn,1975. A great Father’s Day gift—a stay at my 5-star hotel.” We are sure that they were both happy when it was taken, but that year was not a particularly good one for them. The family had to settle a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. The company was allegedly discriminating against African-American clients! This was not the first time that they had to deal with a racial discrimination case either. In 1969, they got sued by the people managing their property in Cincinnati, Ohio. The news reports said that Fred wanted to settle things without making a huge scene.
Father and Son
Donald and Fred Trump made it to the Forbes list of richest Americans in 1982. The two of them had a fortune of $200 million between them. Fred created trust funds with $1 million for all the kids and grandkids. This is what Donald is talking about when he says that his career started with a “small loan of $1 million.” However, he actually had access to the money of the family. He did not stop at only $200 million either.
Donald kept accumulating a lot of money during the ‘80s. In 1989, he even scored a spot on the billionaires’ list that Forbes ran in 1989. Jonathan Greenberg from the publication later said that he believed that he got tricked for this to happen. At any rate, Trump did not stay a billionaire for a long time. His business lost a significant amount of money from 1990 to 1995. The photo below was accompanied by this caption: “#TBT As a young man when I proposed the Convention Center in New York City.”
His fortune kept growing, and he got more ambitious. He wanted to change the skyline of the city! It took him years to push for the idea of the Trump Tower. It eventually got approved and constructed. The building was finished in 1983. Here is a photo of Trump and a Fifth Avenue complex model. It was said that “one of the apartments will sell for $11 million and [Trump] claims four bidders – none of them Americans – are bidding for it.”
Trump was already making a name for himself in real estate by 1978. It eventually made him a billionaire. He purchased a 50% stake in the decrepit Commodore Hotel, which is located beside the Grand Central Terminal. After its renovation, the hotel reopened its doors under the Grand Hyatt Hotel name. Trump was busy building a family around the same time as well. He and Ivana Zelníčková tied the knot in 1977. They had three children between them, but things ended in 1992 when Trump had an affair with Marla Maples.
You can see Donald with Donald Jr, his firstborn son, in 1977. He and Ivana had two more children after him: Ivanka and Eric. They were born in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Sadly, the family was blindsided by a tragedy in 1981. His brother Fred Jr. passed away after struggling with alcohol abuse. The death of his sibling had been very heavy on Donald, who decided to give up cigarettes and alcohol because of this.
In 1983, Donald Trump bought a team in the United States Football League: the New Jersey Generals. He was also able to bring in a Heisman Trophy winner called Herschel Walker to the league! A few years after this, he also lured in Doug Flutie, a former Boston College quarterback. Sadly, the USFL folded after it lost an antitrust case against the National Football League in 1986. It did not help that Trump moved the league from spring/summer to fall/winter as a way to compete with the more established league.
‘The Art of the Deal’
In 1988, he founded the Donald J. Trump Foundation. It was initially supposed to be nothing more than a way for him to give away the proceeds of The Art of the Deal. That is the title of his most famous book! The tax returns of the foundation show that the money was given away to charities and conservative political groups. The photo below came with this caption: “Here with my father Fred, back in 1980. My hero, role model, and best friend. #TBT.”
Wollman Rink Renovation
The city of New York gave Donald Trump the contract to work on the Wollman Rink in June 1986. It took lots of missing deadlines, bureaucracy, and over-budgeting, but it happened at last. They finished renovating the site in December of the same year. Trump made his mark on this popular attraction. He literally left his logo on the rink’s railing! He also donated part of the profit to charity and public works.
Fred Trump died in 1999. Back then, his will indicated that $20 million was going to be distributed to his surviving children. Take a look at this photo of Donald and his dad outside the Central Park skating rink. This was the caption that the Trump team added to it: “#PresidentTrump with his father Fred #Trump at the Wollman Rink in #CentralPark, #NYC – in 1987. #POTUS45 #ThrowbackThursday #TBT”
Marla Maples is the name of his second wife. She and Donald met in 1989 and soon embarked on an affair while he and Ivana were still together. He had a daughter called Tiffany with his second wife. Apparently, they gave her that name as a reference to the jewelry brand! Two months after they welcomed her into the world, Donald and Marla became man and wife at the Plaza Hotel. Trump bought it in 1988 and sold it in 1995. Before the latter, he converted it from a three-star hotel to a four-star one.
Look at this throwback photo that Donald Trump shared. It shows him and his children two decades ago! He is accompanied by Eric, Donald Jr, and Ivanka in this photo. They also went on to inherit a great deal of money and work in the family business. As the saying goes, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Donald can be seen beside a model of “Television City.” It was a proposed complex in Upper West Side right along the Hudson River. Trump wanted it to house the headquarters of TV studios such as NBC news. The centerpiece was a 150-story building meant to be the tallest skyscraper. However, this did not come to fruition. People criticized the idea by saying that it was “woefully simplistic.” It also had “little connection to the varied pattern of streets” of the city. The backlash got stronger when Trump increased the area of his original plan. It went downhill even more after Mayor Ed Koch promised NBC tax breaks if it moved its studios to the area, but not one to Trump. Let us just say that it ended in name-calling!
This is a photo of Trump showing how he branched out of the family business. This shows him after the New York Board of Estimate approved his plans for the Commodore Hotel. It was the opportunity that allowed him to make a name for himself in real estate. However, it is not really true that he is a self-made man. For one thing, he was able to get a construction loan worth $70 million after the proposal was guaranteed by the Hyatt Hotel chain and Fred Trump. We daresay that it is going to be more accurate if you say that he simply kept the family success going.
Trump Tower Completion
The city gave him the go signal to work on the Trump Tower in the same year that he finished the takeover of the Commodore Hotel. Trump allegedly had undocumented Polish workers demolish the Bonwit Teller flagship store to go on with his plans. It was a building that boasted art-deco features and was supposed to be preserved by the city. The construction of the Trump Tower went on for four years. They opened the final spaces in November 1983. There are many commercial and residential spaces inside. The most popular ones would be the Trump Organization HQ and Trump’s penthouse.
Trump Tower Opening
Here is Roy Cohn and Donald Trump at the Trump Tower opening in 1983. The two of them have an interesting history together. Cohn was the one to represent Trump during the federal lawsuit that claimed Trump violated the Fair Housing Act. Apparently, the company quoted different conditions, terms, and vacancies to African-American tenants. However, Trump had to settle the charges in 1975. Three years after that, he returned to court because he allegedly violated the 1975 settlement terms.
Look at this photo of Trump in the Trump Tower. It was taken in 1984. “What I have done is build the most beautiful buildings in the best locations,” he told reporters. In the ‘80s, he renovated the Plaza Hotel and the Wollman skating rink. At the start of the ‘90s, he refurbished the Gulf and Western Building and the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building. He decided to rename the latter to Trump Building. Apparently, he also wanted to rename the Empire State Building after buying shares from 1994 to 2002. He was hoping to change its name to “Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments.”
Take a look at this photo of Donald Trump as he was leaving a federal court in 1986. He was probably unhappy because he had to agree to a penalty of $750,000 to settle an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission. He did not let the government know that he was going to buy more than $15 million in voting stock from Holiday Corp. and Bally Manufacturing Corp. It was a huge sum, but the business was doing very well back then. We are sure that this was not such a big issue for him!
Trump started to look into business prospects in New Jersey. In 1977, the state made casino gambling legal. This was what motivated Trump to leave his thumbprint in the Garden State. He opened the doors of Harrah’s at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in 1984. He also bought more casinos in Atlantic City as the ‘80s went on. The acquisitions turned out to be bad decisions, however.
Take a look at this photo of Donald and Trump with Ed Kock, who was the mayor at the time. They looked very happy here! A few years later, Trump was going to see that his New Jersey acquisitions did not turn a profit. In the end, he was left with no choice but to sell Trump Shuttle, his declining airline. On top of that, he needed to sell Trump Princess, his yacht, and restructure his debt. By 1995, the casino properties were consolidated under Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. From 2004 to 2009, it underwent bankruptcy restructuring.
New Jersey had more bad news for Trump than his disastrous Atlantic City casino properties. He hired Walt Michaels to lead the New Jersey Generals, his stake in the United States Football League. He bought the team in 1983 and hoped to establish the league into a contender of the National Football League. He wanted to change the schedule of the league to fall/winter so that it would compete directly with the NFL. While the USFL won the antitrust suit that it filed against the NFL, it only got $1. By then, the teams were not making enough money to maintain the operations of the team. The USFL disbanded.
No, this is not the interior of a Trump property even though it might look like one. This was photo was taken when Donald and Ivana visited St. Petersburg in 1987. They went there to check out the business opportunities that Russia had in store for them. Ambassador Yuri Dubinin invited Donald Trump. In 1996, he attempted more deals in the Soviet country. For many years, Trump said that he did not have business connections there. However, this turned out to be false because Trump closed a deal to construct a building in Moscow last June 2016! He also received financial support from a Russian source when he dealt with bankruptcies in the ‘90s. Donald Jr. even claimed that Russia had a “pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. … We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
You probably already know that Donald Trump is no longer tight with Hollywood elites. However, he used to be a red carpet staple! He has been a part of the New York elite for the longest time now, after all. He even appeared in a couple of films in the past and got to play himself most of the time. In 2003, NBC brought him in as the host of The Apprentice. The show was a huge hit, and it was where “The Donald” coined “You’re fired.” There is a spinoff series called The Celebrity Apprentice” as well.
Even though Trump has no issues going against celebs who criticize his governance, it was not always like this. Even though he distanced himself from famous people, there is one connection that people brought back to the spotlight. Here is a photo of Trump and Jeffrey Epstein in Mar-a-Lago in 1997. They had been friends for a decade. When he talked to New York Magazine, Trump said, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Friends Like These
People scrutinized this old comment of his after Epstein was arrested for sex trafficking of minors in 2019. There had been talk about his pedophilia for decades before that. In the past, Trump and Epstein hang out together at Mar-a-Lago. Their friendship ended badly, however, they joined a bidding war for the Maison de l’Amitie or House of Friendship in 2004. Trump was the one to win the auction. Epstein must have gotten upset about this since they did not talk anymore after that. Four years after this happened, a Russian businessman by the name of Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the state from him.
This official portrait of Donald Trump was snapped in 1983. In those days, he was not making headlines on a daily basis. This was the same year that he and his father made it to the list of wealthy people ran by Forbes. In the ‘80s, he was taken out of the list. He has since made a comeback, of course. In 2019, Forbes said that he had an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, which makes him the 259th richest person in the United States. While he became the first billionaire president, his wealth dropped by 31% since he started his presidential campaign.
During his time at the New York Military Academy, he joined many school teams and attended various functions. This photo comes from his yearbook. It said that he is a “Ladies’ Man.” It took people five decades to find out who the woman in the photo was. Apparently, she was Fran Dunn, a school secretary. She had been asked to pose in a photo with Donald Trump. He definitely got an early start, but we all know that his ladies’ man reputation did not end in his youth!