When Donald Trump Met Melania, She Was ‘Out Of Money’ And A Struggling Model, Per ‘Sunday Express’

'Sunday Express' says that the current first lady was a 'D-list' model when Trump helped her get an 'Einstein visa.'

First lady Melania Trump listens as President Trump speaks during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room.
Oliver Contreras / Getty Images

'Sunday Express' says that the current first lady was a 'D-list' model when Trump helped her get an 'Einstein visa.'

Back in 1998, when Melania Knauss first met Donald Trump, she was a struggling model who had come to New York two years earlier to make it in the industry. Now, a new report says that when the two started dating, the model was about to run out of money, living in an apartment with a number of other models — including her sister.

The Sunday Express says that before Melania met Donald Trump she was having trouble gaining traction in her career — and in the two years since arriving in New York from Slovenia, she was still trying to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. They added that Melania met Trump at just the right time, as she was having difficulty financially.

“She ran into Donald just at the right time. She was just about out of money, at the end of her rope and about to move back to Eastern Europe.”

Until Melania Knauss started dating the current president, she was working in New York without a green card. But, in 2001, she received an “elite EB-1” green card, sometimes known as an Einstein visa, which is “designed for renowned academic researchers, multinational business executives or those in other fields, such as Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who demonstrated ‘sustained national and international acclaim.'”

According to Vanity Fair, it was Trump friend, Paolo Zampolli — co-owner of Metropolitan Models — who scouted Melania on a trip to Europe. He asked if she’d like to come to the U.S. to model for him.

Photographer Matthew Atanian, a one-time roommate of Melania Trump, says that she was only successful in getting second and third tier modeling jobs in New York.

“She was always kind of a stiff person. That’s why she wasn’t a successful model, because she couldn’t move.”

Atanian and other models used to tease her about dating Donald Trump, but she defended him.

“[We’d ask her] ‘Oh, it’s the small hands you like, not the money, right? The comb-over, the dashing good looks.’ Melania would say, ‘Stop it, stop it.’ Her rap was ‘He’s a real man.'”

Friends of Donald Trump said that Melania made sense after “demanding Ivana” and “needy Marla.” Melania got her first magazine spread in British GQ courtesy of Trump, says Vanity Fair, but it was nearly nude — and she was photographed wearing handcuffs which were attached to a briefcase.

Donald and Melania Trump married in 2005 at Mar-a-Lago.