Lara Trump's Transformation Is A Sight To See

Lara Trump has so fully assimilated into her husband's family that it's hard to believe she wasn't born with her famous surname. But when she first met Eric Trump, she had no idea she'd someday become a cog in Donald Trump's political machine. "I certainly never thought that I'd end up with the last name Trump," she said in her 2020 RNC speech. The same year she delivered that speech, she told USA Today she had cared little about politics before the 2016 presidential race.

Now Lara isn't just a Trump; she's daydreaming about running for office alongside her father-in-law. Lara hosts a podcast called "The Right View" and regularly answers questions from fans in a sinister-sounding segment called "Wanted for Questioning." In response to a listener who asked if she would be Donald's running mate, her answer was an unequivocal yes. "Just imagine the hysteria: Trump-Trump," she said. "Two Trumps running together. Oh my god, the liberal heads across the country would simultaneously explode!" Instead, Lara accepted a different role, albeit just as important: working to help her father-in-law achieve his political ambitions. Along the way, she's undergone quite the transformation from a Carolina girl who once harbored nonpolitical dreams to a major political power player.

She grew up loving animals and cheerleading

Lara Lea Trump (née Yunaska) grew up in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. On another episode of "The Right View," she revealed that her parents, Linda and Robert Yunaska, named her after the character Lara Antipova from the novel Doctor Zhivago. Robert built boats for a living and told Soundings he once customized a large vessel for broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite.

Trump developed a love of animals as a child, telling her podcast listeners that her first pet was a pair of parakeets. But what she really wanted was a dog, and she got her wish when her mother learned that indoor birds had been linked to respiratory issues. Once Trump found a new home for the parakeets, she was allowed to adopt a dog from a shelter — and helping rescue animals would later become one of her "pet" causes.

Trump also loved horses, but being a budding equestrian resulted in her worst childhood injury. "When I was in fifth grade, I dislocated my elbow riding my friend's horse," she recalled on "The Right View." As Trump got older, cheerleading became another passion. She told Fox News that she failed to make the junior varsity squad the first year she tried out but decided to try again after working hard to improve her cheer skills. "The next year, I didn't make the JV team — I made the varsity team," she recalled.

She worked at Hooters and modeled during college

After graduating high school, Lara Trump remained in her home state to pursue a higher education. She had difficulty choosing what to major in when she enrolled at North Carolina State University. "I thought perhaps I would parlay my love of sports into some sort of a sports medicine route," she said on "The Right View." However, she decided obtaining a medical degree would require spending too much time in school, so she eventually settled on a communications major. According to Trump's One Model Place portfolio, she worked at Hooters during college, won a few bikini contests, and posed for the men's magazine Stuff a few months before she graduated in 2005. She also participated in Maxim's Hometown Hotties competition.

After college, it seems Lara gave up on finding fame as a model. She returned home and put her degree to use by working as an intern at two local news stations. "It was great to have that start in local news because it can get overwhelming going up from there," she told StarNews Online. However, she took a little vocational detour before her broadcast career hit the big time.

Lara Trump briefly pursued a pretty sweet career

After getting some firsthand experience working at news stations, Lara Trump switched gears by trading cameras for cake pans; she moved to NYC to study at the French Culinary Institute. She obtained a degree in pastry arts in 2007 and launched her own business called Lara Lea Confections. Trump sold cakes designed to look like everything from purses to brains to a Laker Girl's boobs. For her brother's birthday one year, she replicated the stars and stripes of Peter Fonda's "Easy Rider" helmet in fondant.

On her podcast, Trump said that disgraced Food Network star Paula Deen is one of her idols and revealed that she'd love to host her own cooking show someday. However, when Trump landed her first big television gig, she wasn't whipping up decadent desserts — she was booking interviews for "Inside Edition." "That's a bit of a tough job," she revealed on "The Right View," explaining that many of the potential interview subjects she reached out to had painful stories to share.

How her height helped her meet her future husband

One of the weirdest things about Lara Trump and Eric Trump's marriage is the story of how they met. When she was out one night in New York, Lara noticed the Trump heir because he was taller than her. Lara is 5-foot-11, so it's a rarity for her to meet a guy who still has a few inches on her when she's wearing heels. The two started chatting, and Lara mentioned she was in culinary school. That's when Eric put his hands on her waist and dropped a pickup line that possibly would have earned him a drink in the face if he'd used it on a different woman. "He was like, 'I bet all of your cooking tastes like garbage because it doesn't seem like you've been eating any of it," Lara recalled on "The Right View."

Eric's rather rude assumption left a lasting impression on Lara, who told "She Rises Studios" that she hadn't recognized the guy she was talking to as a Trump son. Lara was nervous about meeting Eric's parents for the first time when she attended the U.S. Open with the Trump clan, but Donald Trump used a chilly dessert as an icebreaker. "There was no grilling, not a ton of questions. Just nice hellos and ice cream," Lara recalled to StarNews Online.

She broke both wrists before her wedding

While his ice cream offering to his daughter-in-law seemed to suggest otherwise, Donald Trump's relationship with Lara Trump was reportedly frosty at first. On the "Political Beatdown" podcast, Donald's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, explained that it took Donald a long time to warm to Lara because he wanted Eric Trump to marry another woman. Donald's desired daughter-in-law also happened to be one of his Trump Organization employees.

But after five years of dating, Eric defied his father's wishes and put a ring from his sister Ivanka Trump's high-end jewelry line on Lara's finger. Lara also helped her sister-in-law promote her company by accessorizing her Vera Wang bridal gown with bling from Ivanka's brand, which has since been discontinued.

When Lara married Eric at his father's Mar-a-Lago club in 2014, her reception outfit included two additional unwanted accessories: casts on both wrists. A few weeks before she walked down the aisle, Lara suffered an unfortunate horseback riding accident. "My wedding planner and my designer came up with some fabulously bedazzled gloves to try and blend these casts," the injured equestrian told People after officially becoming a Trump.

Lara Trump put her career on hold to help her father-in-law

When Donald Trump launched his first presidential campaign in 2015, Lara Trump worked at "Inside Edition" as an associate producer. On "The Right View," she said that one of her most memorable experiences working for the news magazine was shooting a story about Lake Superior's ice caves. She had to stand on the frozen lake and recalled being told, "If you fall through the ice, by the time someone comes to rescue you, you'll already be dead." Lara also mentioned the incident that partially informed her decision to step away from the show to focus on helping her father-in-law with his presidential campaign. "I became a story while I worked there when someone sent us an envelope full of white powder," she recalled.

According to The New York Times, Donald used to say that he would be unable to pick Lara "out of a lineup." However, according to Lara, a conversation with Donald about her home state made him realize that she could be useful to him. "In only the way that Donald Trump can, he said, 'You know what, I want to put you in charge of winning North Carolina,'" Lara recalled to The Telegraph. Donald won the state when he won the presidency, and Lara has kept her fortunes tied to her father-in-law ever since.

Donald Trump spilled the beans about her first pregnancy

After giving up her career to stump for Donald Trump, Lara Trump was rewarded with a trip to Washington, D.C., to celebrate his inauguration in 2017. "The first time we got to be in the White House was when we changed into our gowns for the night and the Inaugural Ball. It was such an amazing experience," she told StarNews Online.

During her father-in-law's big night, Lara also stole a bit of his spotlight when she told the Trump family that she and Eric Trump were expecting their first child. However, it seems Donald was happy to have some good news to share with everyone around him. In an interview with Fox News, Lara and Eric recounted how Donald later told attendees at a political event in Tennessee that he had a grandson on the way. The couple hadn't yet shared the news with the public, but Lara wasn't angry with her father-in-law for spilling the secret. "That made me feel so good, how happy and how excited he was," she said.

While she was preparing for motherhood, Lara was also busy helping Donald prepare for his reelection bid mere weeks into his presidency. Donald made her a senior adviser for his campaign, and the avid triathlete hit the ground running. "We didn't want these core supporters who created this movement in our country to feel like we deserted them," she explained to StarNews Online.

She tried to get Donald Trump to adopt a dog

According to Lara Trump, Eric Trump wasn't a big dog lover when they first met. But two years into their relationship, they adopted their first dog: a rescue beagle named Charlie. "It took a lot of convincing," Lara told Fox News. Luckily, Charlie quickly won Eric over and even served as the couple's ring bearer when they got hitched.

Lara hoped she could similarly convince her father-in-law and his wife, former first lady Melania Trump, to adopt a rescue dog. Such a move would have potentially helped Donald score some points with the large contingent of canine lovers that make up America's voting populace. "I am working on it as hard as I can! I think they probably will," Lara said during a 2017 appearance on "Mornings with Maria."

Donald never did adopt a dog, but while Lara was chairperson for The Big Dog Ranch Rescue, he was happy to let the nonprofit host charity events at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump venues — as long as it paid for the privilege. Lara and Eric did their best to make up for the lack of a first dog by adopting an adorable "foster fail" named Ben in 2017.

The first-time mom launched a controversial social media project

In September 2017, Lara Trump and Eric Trump welcomed their first child, Eric Luke Trump. On "The Right View," Lara shared the inspiration for his middle name. "My dad's father was named Luke and I always loved the name. I think it's a strong name; it's a Biblical name."

The same year she shared her happy family news, Lara embarked on a mission to help her father-in-law combat the so-called "fake news" he was always moaning about. She became a senior consultant for Donald Trump's digital vendor and began producing and appearing in videos that his campaign shared on social media. Some of these "Real News Updates" resembled actual news reports, but The Daily Beast deemed them "quasi-propaganda." They were filled with effusive praise for Donald. "This is a president who is putting America before himself. I'm so proud of that," Lara says in one video.

An insider told The Daily Beast that Lara was the architect of the ploy to make it look like Donald was getting positive press coverage. The source added that Lara had drawn from her experience as an "Inside Edition" producer when working on the campaign ads disguised as news.

Lara Trump met the queen while pregnant with her daughter

Lara Trump didn't let her second pregnancy slow her down. When Queen Elizabeth II extended an invitation to Donald Trump for a state visit in 2019, he brought his extended family with him to Buckingham Palace — including his unborn granddaughter. "Knowing that one day I'll tell this baby about the adventure overseas and all that happened while in my belly made everything all the more meaningful," Lara told Hello! of her trip to London. She also revealed that the queen was the royal she was most excited to meet.

Back stateside, Lara busied herself campaigning for her father-in-law. When she was eight months into her pregnancy, she headed to Pennsylvania to speak at a Women for Trump event. Per The Washington Post, she told the crowd that Donald had sacrificed his life of leisure for their sake.

Lara was finally forced to take a break from traveling and trying to keep her father-in-law in the White House when she went into labor in August 2019. On her podcast, Lara said that her daughter is named Carolina after her home state. Her middle name, Dorothy, is a tribute to both Lara's grandmother and one of Eric Trump's childhood nannies.

Her short-lived Fox News career

Lara Trump's tireless campaigning for Donald Trump failed to get him across the finish line during the 2020 election, and her family decided to move closer to Donald's new home base in the Sunshine State after the loss. Their $3.2 million four-bedroom home was located in the same Jupiter, Florida, community as the Trump National Golf Club. On "The Right View," Lara said that one perk of living there is that people sometimes pay for her and Eric's meals when they dine out.

Lara also found a new job in 2021: She parlayed her experience shilling for Donald into a gig as a Fox News contributor. During her first paid appearance on the network, she joked, "I sort of feel like I've been an unofficial member of the team for so long." But in December 2022, Lara abruptly exited Fox News. At the time, Donald had decided to run for president again and needed her assistance.

Unfortunately for Lara, Fox News wasn't going to give her a paycheck for turning her segments into free campaign ads. A source told The Washington Post that it was her involvement with Donald's campaign that earned her a pink slip.

Lara Trump became an even bigger political power player

Lara Trump's years of being a fulsome media surrogate for Donald Trump culminated in Donald giving her his full-throated endorsement for the role of RNC co-chair in 2024. Lara's subsequent takeover of the RNC was controversial because it seemed like a blatant conflict of interest — and she had vowed to prioritize her father-in-law's reelection to a degree that would potentially be detrimental to down-ticket Republican candidates. "We need to make sure that every penny of every dollar donated to the RNC is going to Donald Trump's campaign," she told a crowd of supporters in South Carolina, per Bloomberg. No wonder Donald has become such a big fan of his daughter-in-law. "He always tells me that I'm a secret weapon," Lara boasted to The Wall Street Journal.

One of Donald's Republican rivals took issue with the Trumps running the party like a family business. "He's going to make the RNC his own legal slush fund," Nikki Haley predicted. Lara had ruffled some feathers by saying that Republican voters would support the RNC's funds being used to pay Trump's legal bills, per AP. She later assured NBC News this was not something the committee was prioritizing.

She released an original song

When the estate of late rock icon Tom Petty demanded that the Trump campaign stop playing the singer's music at its political events in 2020, it seems that Lara Trump took this as a personal challenge — in 2023, she released a cover of Petty's 1989 song "I Won't Back Down." She then appeared on "Hannity" to play the victim. Lara accused streaming platforms of "shadow-banning" her song and shared her theory about why she couldn't get it on the radio. Shockingly, it had nothing to do with her talent level not being comparable to professional musicians. "It was too political, and I think it's time we as conservatives start fighting back," she said (via The Daily Beast).

Apparently, "fighting back" entailed finding time to launch a music career while Lara was busy with her new duties as RNC chair. In March 2024, she released an original song, "Anything Is Possible." It was no chart-topper, but it aptly described her unlikely political ascension. It remains to be seen whether that ascent will continue — or whether the Carolina girl who loves horses and America too will find herself free-fallin' because she decided to help Donald Trump run down his dream.