The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump by Mary Jordan:
Six months before Melania’s Sports Illustrated shoot in Mexico, the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant held its 1999 competition in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Trump often invited his pals to be judges, and that year he asked Kylie Bax and world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield. Perhaps more important, he invited Diane Smith, the influential Sports Illustrated senior editor in charge of the swimsuit edition. Within months of the Miss Universe pageant, Melania, Bax, and Holyfield all appeared int eh 2000 swimsuit issue. (Male sports stars are sometimes featured posing with the bikini-clas women.)
A few weeks after the fall photo shoot, in late 1999, Sports Illustrated’s top editor, Bill Colson, received a phone call out of the blue: Donald Trump wanted to have lunch. Colson had never met Trump, and he thought it strange to be summoned by the celebrity developer. But everybody knew Trump was interested in sports, particularly golf and tennis, so perhaps it made sense that he wanted to chat with the editor of the biggest sports magazine in the country. Colson met him at Jean-Georges, the high-end restaurant housed in the Trump International Hotel and Tower on Central Park West. Colson engaged Trump on sports, and they chatted. But Colson said it soon became clear why he was there.
“Did it go well with Melania?” Trump said.