Trump continues to divide America – but how did he get to the White House?

He may be one of the most divisive presidents in living memory but there’s no doubting that Donald Trump has always done things differently.

Real estate developer, media mogul, casino owner, TV personality. Adding President of the United States of America to the CV probably feels like a natural step to ‘the Donald’.

But where did it all begin?

Well, Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York, the fourth of five children of Frederick C. and Mary MacLeod Trump

His father was a builder and real estate developer who specialized in constructing and operating middle-income apartments in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

As a child – and they will probably come as no real surprise given his record over the last couple of years – Donald was energetic and assertive, and his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at 13, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.

Trump did well, becoming a star athlete and student leader before graduating in 1964. From there he went on to Fordham University and two years later transferred to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in economics.

During his years at college, Trump secured education deferments for the Vietnam War draft and a 1-Y medical deferment after he graduated – pretty strange for someone so fit and seemingly healthy (and from a man who boasted he would be ‘the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency’).

Trump followed his father into the real estate business and joined the family business – then Elizabeth Trump and Sons – after graduation. In 1971 he took over the running of the business and changed its name to the Trump Organization.

He sensed a big win in New York’s economic capabilities and began to slowly but surely build his reputation across the Big Apple with a number of projects.

Despite many ups and downs in the 1970s –

With thousands of constructions to his name, Trump entered the world of gambling in 1984 after Harrah’s in Trump Plaza opened in Atlantic City.

Despite its poor turnout, he went on to acquire more property and casinos including a $320 billion Hilton property, which he remodelled into the hotel/casino Trump Castle.

He also bought properties in Florida’s luxurious Palm Beaches, often turning them into part-time retreats and private clubs.

One of these acquisitions became the Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, adding yet another casino to his cap.

In 1988, he went on to acquire the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, and then the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City.

The latter was built for $1.1 billion, and at the time of its inception, was the most expensive casino ever built.  

It’s fair to say that Trump casinos where never far from controversy.

As it turned out, $675 million of the $1.1 billion used in the construction were paid in junk bonds. The institution soon became bankrupt.

Even though it recovered, and Trump even acquired the property back later, his relationship with bankruptcy was far from over.

His hotels and casinos have filed for bankruptcy a whopping six times, even though Trump himself has never filed for it – something Trump has always been keen to point out since entering the world of politics.

The new president has admitted to ‘playing’ with bankruptcy laws to keep his institutions afloat during ongoing legal negotiations.

Apart from casinos, clubs, and other commercial buildings, Trump also owns several golf courses and resorts in the US, as well as around the world, including Scotland where his mother was born.

He is also involved in professional sports, and once owned an American Football club, New Jersey Generals.

He also organised occasional boxing matches inside Trump Towers, was involved in a venture with Mike Tyson, as well as WWE’s Wrestlemania. 

Back in the late 1980s, he even managed to find time to pop up on popular ITV football show Saint and Greavesie and helped conduct a League Cup draw!

As you would probably expect, Trump has also written several books and owns a line of merchandise that includes products ranging from neckties to plastic bottles.

His business career as well as a latter career of organising beauty pageants and a stint in reality TV as the host of the US-version of The Apprentice has now been put on hold as Trump gets to grips with his biggest role yet – Leader of the Free World, the US commander-in-chief and a president. 

Image courtesy of, with thanks.

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