A man who says he was Melania Trump’s first ever boyfriend has given a glimpse of her humble teenage years in Slovenia.
“It was my first love,” Peter Butoln told INSIDE EDITION of Melania. “My first real love.”
Melania was born in the small town of Sernica -- population 5,000 -- but met Butoln when she moved to the capital city, Ljubljana, to attend an elite high school when she was just 17.
Butoln told IE that he approached Melania after spotting her walking in the city center.
“I saw her in a crowd of girls and she was the most beautiful girl,” he recalled.
When they spoke, he continued to be impressed. “She was very calm, very peaceful, very modest,” he said.
They hung out at Melania’s modest apartment in a government housing project. Butoln took IE’s Steven Fabian to the building, which today looks drab.
The apartment has since been renovated into a modern living space – but it is still a far cry from Melania's life of luxury at Trump Tower.
Butoln said his relationship with Melania ended when he left for the army. They never saw each other again.
The last he heard from her was in 1987, when she sent him a postcard shortly after their split.
“I send you this postcard with nice warm regards from the seaside,” she wrote on the card, which Butoln has kept.
A spokesperson for Melania Trump says he was never her boyfriend.
After Butoln went away to the army, Melania was discovered by a photographer. She dropped out of college to become a model and traveled to New York, where she met Donald Trump at a party in 1998.
They returned to Slovenia, where Trump asked Melania’s father for permission to marry her as they dined at a luxury lakeside hotel in her hometown. A photo of the couple is proudly displayed in a glass case in the hotel.
Melania – born Melania Knauss in 1970 -- lived in a 4th floor, 3-bedroom apartment in the town with her parents and sister. Her neighbors and former classmates speak fondly of their famous former resident, recalling her talents for art and fashion.
Now they wonder if her journey will take her to the White House.