Everything You Need To Know About Donald Trump's Alleged Mistress

Donald Trump's third marriage has taken its fair share of hits. Of the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct levied against the former president, many are said to have occurred during his marriage to Melania Trump. And while Donald has consistently denied any and all allegations of such wrongdoing, evidence of his alleged consensual affairs has also surfaced. 

The most notable, of course, came to light when Donald's lawyer, Michael Cohen, confirmed that he orchestrated a hush money payout of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence regarding her alleged affair with Donald.  

And in yet another bombshell report, journalist Ronan Farrow accused Donald of cheating on Melania Trump again. This time, the alleged consensual extramarital affair was with Karen McDougal, a Playboy Playmate, and it supposedly occurred between 2006 and 2007, when Donald's son with Melania, Barron Trump, was an infant. The report also accused the one-man brand of using a careful network of collaborators to hide his affairs from the prying eyes of the media and his wife. So, who is the mysterious Playmate at the center of these high-profile accusations? 

Karen McDougal went from the heartland to the hot seat

Karen McDougal was born in Indiana in 1971. She grew up in rural Michigan as the fourth of five children. In addition to the number of athletic and artistic activities she took up in school, her sweet demeanor and beauty earned her the nickname "Barbie."

After high school, McDougal attended college for two years at Ferris State University before departing to a suburb of Detroit to work as a preschool teacher — and she may have stayed in that lane indefinitely had it not been for a friend convincing her to enter a swimsuit contest, which led to an opportunity to begin competing internationally. 

During one of the international competitions, McDougal met a photographer affiliated with Playboy, a connection which encouraged her to move to California for a test shoot with the magazine. She didn't know it yet, but as soon as she set foot in the Playboy Mansion for the first time, she was launching a lucrative and highly successful new career.

Karen McDougal moved through the Playmate ranks fast

Growing up, Karen McDougal had dreams of her own but never could she have imagined that someday, she would be posing for the famous Playboy magazine. "I was always wholesome little Karen," she revealed in her Playmate interview. "In high school, my nickname was Barbie, as in Barbie doll — the nice, sweet, perfect girl. That sort of girl isn't expected to be seen in the most-looked-at men's magazine in the world." But as the saying goes, life is full of many surprises.

Two days after her first test shoot for Playboy, McDougal got the call booking her for her first professional photo spread in the magazine. Soon after she began working with Playboy, she was crowned Miss December 1997. "It all happened very fast," McDougal related on her website. "I honestly didn't think that I was going to be accepted considering that Playboy has tens of thousands of girls apply every year." Thanks to a deluge of votes earned through call-ins, write-ins, and Playboy TV, McDougal became the magazine's 1998 Playmate of the Year, and by 2001, she had become so popular through her evocative photo spreads and promo work that she was voted the no. 2 Playmate of the '90s by the magazine's readership (bested only by superstar Pamela Anderson).

Hollywood called Karen McDougal into... The Arena

Modeling might have been her first love but Karen McDougal was not one to be confined in a box. In 2001, McDougal's career took a detour into acting when she starred in the Roger Corman-produced B-movie "The Arena," playing a Roman slave who becomes a gladiatrix named Jessemina. Though "The Arena" remains her biggest movie to date, the model also snagged a few more uncredited appearances and a minor role in 2008's "Stiletto." With her acting career not garnering as much success as expected, McDougal also tried her hand at reality TV.

In 2004, McDougal was one of the 28 finalists that contested for WWE Diva Search, a talent competition organized and produced by WWE. Sadly, McDougal never made it through to the last stage as she was eliminated in the semi-finals. In her heyday, the former model also tried her hand at hosting. "I've also hosted numerous times for E! Wild On, Show Times [sic] Red Carpet and VIP Access, Infomercials and hosted the world series poker-poker tips," she wrote on her website. "I really enjoy my work and I love to be in front of the camera (have you figured that one out yet ... lol)."

Karen McDougal kept a diary about her alleged affair with Donald Trump

She might not have been able to talk about her alleged relationship with Donald Trump as much as she would have liked, but Karen McDougal always had a friend in her diary. In there, she documented the reported affair. McDougal's diary would later be used in a 2018 New Yorker exposé written by journalist Ronan Farrow. As reported by the outlet, Trump and McDougal met in 2006 during a party for "The Apprentice" at the Playboy Mansion where he asked for her cellphone number. By their supposed interaction that night, it did not take much to see that the business mogul was interested in pursuing a relationship with McDougal. "It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, 'Wow, he was all over you — I think you could be his next wife," said the former model.

A few days later, they reportedly went on their first date. "I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man," she recalled of the date in her diary. "We talked for a couple hours –- then, it was 'ON'! We got naked + had sex." But what seemingly started as a fling soon reportedly evolved into a 10-month-long affair. And if you were wondering if McDougal and Trump's 10-month-long alleged affair ever went beyond sex, the former model says they shared something special. "There was a real relationship there. There were feelings between the two of us," she told CNN in 2018.

Hitting the town, but not the links

After their supposed first date, Karen McDougal and Donald Trump reportedly started seeing each other often, with most of the meetings happening whenever the Mar-a-Lago owner was visiting Los Angeles. Soon enough though, the pair graduated to attending public events together, with Trump allegedly funding all of McDougal's trips. But even though Trump was more than happy to take care of the bills, he was also sure to do it with utmost secrecy. "No paper trails for him," McDougal wrote in her diary (via The New Yorker). "In fact, every time I flew to meet him, I booked/paid for flight + hotel + he reimbursed me."

Their travels took them to California, where the future President would reportedly do his best to keep her away from the orbit of pro golfer Tiger Woods, another notoriously unfaithful public figure. So much so that on one occasion, Trump specifically warned her to stay away from the golf star. As written in her diary, McDougal found this particular scenario amusing.

However, not only did McDougal meet a number of popular figures during her affair with Trump, but she was apparently also introduced to some members of his famous family including sons Donald Jr. and Eric. "We took pics together, alone + with his family," she recounted of a party organized by the business mogul.

Karen McDougal didn't want Donald Trump's money

Karen McDougal and Donald Trump reportedly began seeing each other with what she described as a first date at the Beverly Hills Hotel, with Trump favoring one bungalow that they would allegedly return to often. According to her diary, McDougal "went to see him every time he was in LA (which was a lot)." McDougal made several observations about Trump in her writings during this time. For one, he was supposedly a man of serious habits. Secondly, while he seemed to view their relationship as transactional, she didn't see it that way at all. 

"He always ordered steak and mashed potatoes," she wrote. "He never drank. We talked for a couple hours — then, it was 'ON"! We got naked and had sex. After, we got dressed to leave. He offered me money. I looked at him (I felt sad) and said, 'No thanks — I'm not that girl.'"

"I slept w/you because I like you — NOT for money'," she wrote. "He told me 'you are special.'" At the same time that Trump was reportedly seeing McDougal, he was also allegedly carrying on affairs with several other women. 

The alleged affair hit close to Donald Trump's home

Karen McDougal claimed that during their alleged affair, she paid multiple visits to Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. There, she noted in her diary that Melania Trump had a separate bedroom. At the time, Donald Trump and Melania had reportedly been married for less than two years. "Flew to NY a time or two," McDougal wrote. "Stayed @ a hotel. He did take me to his house — showed me around. Pointed out his wife's bedroom. Said she liked her space — to read or be alone sometimes."

This wasn't the only uncomfortable moment she reportedly had with Trump's family. According to McDougal, Trump had a habit of frequently remarking on similarities he saw between herself and his daughter Ivanka, sending her articles about himself or his daughter and showing off her appearances on magazine covers. McDougal's encounters with Trump's sons were more muted. She says she sat with Donald Trump, Jr. and his wife during an event for Trump Vodka. (They shared a table with, of all people, Kim Kardashian.) She also supposedly had an encounter with Eric Trump during a party for "The Apprentice" held at the Playboy Mansion. 

"I was working as a 'Bunny' that night," she wrote. "[Donald's] whole family was there. We took pics together alone and with his family. He told me he asked his son, Eric, who he thought was the most beautiful girl here and Eric pointed [at] me. Mr. T said 'He has great taste' and we laughed!" 

Anxiety, angst, and guilt ended the alleged affair for Karen McDougal

Karen McDougal ended her relationship with the real estate mogul after nine months, supposedly unable to get beyond feelings of guilt about intervening in his marriage. According to her friend who provided her diary to The New Yorker, "She couldn't look at herself in the mirror anymore, and she was concerned about what her mother thought of her." McDougal raised her concerns about their alleged affair to Donald Trump, particularly the one about her mother's disapproval, to which Trump allegedly replied, "What, that old hag?" This, among other inflammatory comments about gender and race supposedly offended McDougal to the point where she finally felt comfortable breaking off the relationship.

Today, she reportedly regrets the affair. "This is a new me," McDougal told The New Yorker. "If I could go back and do a lot of things differently, I definitely would."

McDougal says that she came forward about the affair to add her voice to the chorus of other women who are standing up to showcase the abuses made by high-profile, powerful men. As The New Yorker piece notes, several of the women Trump has allegedly had affairs with have accused him of sexual assault. "I know it's a different circumstance, but I just think I feel braver." McDougal said. "Every girl who speaks is paving the way for another."

Donald Trump bought her silence

In November 2016, only a few days before the Presidential election, The Wall Street Journal published an exposé, revealing that Donald Trump pulled some strings to prevent the story of his affair with Karen McDougal from becoming public. According to the article, McDougal was at some point attempting to sell the story of their alleged affair when Trump and his friend David Pecker, then CEO of American Media Inc. (AMI), caught wind of her plans. To contain the situation, The National Enquirer, a subsidiary of AMI, subsequently reached out to McDougal, striking an NDA deal to pay $150,000 in exchange for the story. In addition to the $150,000, McDougal was reportedly also offered two cover page features as well as a column in the magazine's wellness section — a contract that was only partially fulfilled. 

Given the NDA clause in their agreement, McDougal was for a long time unable to publicly discuss her alleged affair with the former president. "It took my rights away," she admitted to The New Yorker in 2018. "At this point, I feel I can't talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don't know what I'm allowed to talk about. I'm afraid to even mention his name." Though McDougal was eventually freed from the contract in 2018, she has since retired from the spotlight, seemingly enjoying life away from the Trump drama.