How did Melania meet Donald Trump? The story of their love affair

While Donald Trump had been a household name for years, most Americans were introduced to the future first couple during the 2016 election cycle.

But the Trumps' story began almost two decades earlier when Donald Trump showed up to a Fashion Week party hosted by former model agency top dog Paolo Zampolli -- who decided to introduce him to supermodel Melania Knauss.

Knauss was 28 and Trump -- a father of four who was recently separated from second wife Marla Maples -- was 24 years her senior. (Trump was first married to Ivana Trump, who he divorced in 1990.)

Trump, who had been dating the Norwegian Celina Midelfart for several months, sent Midelfart to the bathroom so that he could chat with Knauss, according to a 2016 GQ profile.

"I went crazy," Trump told Larry King in 2005 of his reaction of when he first saw Knauss. "I said, 'Forget about her. Who's the one on the left?' And it was Melania."

"She was a very successful model. She was terrific. I tried to get her number and she wouldn't give it to me," he said.

Melania and Donald Trump: Their love story in photos

"He wanted my number, but he was with a date, so of course I didn't give it to him," Knauss recalled of their first exchange in an interview with Harper's Bazaar in 2016.

"I said, 'I am not giving you my number; you give me yours, and I will call you.' I wanted to see what kind of number he would give me—if it was a business number, what is this? I'm not doing business with you," she said.

So Trump, in turn, reportedly gave Knauss all of his numbers -- "the office, Mar-a-Lago, home in New York, everything," she said.

"I was struck by his energy," she said. "He has an amazing sense of vitality."

For their first night out on the town, he took her to celebrity hotspot Moomba, allegedly Leonardo DiCaprio's hangout at the time.

"I remember that night like it was two months ago," she said.

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After a one-year courtship, Melania faced accusations that she was only interested in Trump for his money, and later defended herself against the gold digger claims.

"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," an alleged source close to Trump is quoted in the New York Post.

"I think you can't be with the person if it's not love, if they don't satisfy you," Knauss told the New York Times in 1999. "You can't hug a beautiful apartment, you can't hug an airplane, you can't talk to them.

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In the following years, the two would go on to date on and off until their engagement in 2004.

Trump proposed to Knauss at the Costume Institute Gala, adorning her finger with a $1.5 million diamond engagement ring he reportedly picked out himself.

After marrying in 2005, the two welcomed their son Barron in 2006.

Trump has credited Melania for her support over the years.

"She's shown she can be the woman behind me," he later told gossip columnist Cindy Adams after the engagement. "We're together five years, and these five years for whatever reasons have been my most successful. I have to imagine she had something to do with that."

Melania Trump says she plans to continue to be a key supporter of her husband's during his time in the White House, and plans to channel prior first ladies as she embarks on this new role.

"I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him," she said.