HOFer Stephenson Turned Down Trump For Career

Long before Donald Trump was the President of the United States and Jan Stephenson was a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, they were young professionals in their respective fields who crossed paths and hit it off. 

As Stephenson told ForTheWin’s Luke Kerr-Dineen, the future Hall of Famer could have conceivably been Mrs. Donald Trump, but she chose her burgeoning golf career over Trump.

Stephenson relayed a memory that always springs to mind when she thinks of Trump. It centers around a Trump dinner invitation in New York while Stephenson was in Atlanta preparing to play in a tournament. Because she had a Pro-Am the next day, Stephenson requested Trump fly down to Atlanta to meet her for dinner.

“When a limo arrived to pick her up, ostensibly to allow her to meet Trump upon his arrival, the driver literally rolled out a red carpet,” Kerr-Dineen wrote. “But when she got to the airport she said she was told to board a waiting plane.

“‘When I got inside the plane was full of roses, and there was one rose sitting on seat with a letter for a dinner reservation in Paris,’ Stephenson said. ‘That was the most romantic thing he ever did.'”

The most romantic thing he ever did was turned down by the 1974 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year signaling the beginning of the end of their relationship. 

By the late 1970s, Stephenson had become one of the most recognizable women in sports, thanks in large part to her appearance on the cover of 1977’s Sport Magazine. 

However, before she caught mainstream attention, she caught the attention of Trump. In 1975, LPGA Tour commissioner Ray Volpe arranged a dinner between the new face of the Tour and Trump, where the pair hit it off. 

“He was seeing (future wife) Ivana and I at the same time. He was really open about it,” Stephenson remembers. “She was an accomplished skier at the time, and he said she was prepared to give up her career to be with him. I told him I couldn’t do that. I think that was the reason it never worked out between us.

‘It was kind of a yes or no. He started getting really serious with Ivana after that.”

Stephenson and Trump’s courtship lasted about a year from 1975 to 1976. After their amicable split, Trump would go on to marry his first wife in April of 1977. 

Stephenson told Kerr-Dineen that she doesn’t regret her decision to continue to focus on her career, but admitted she can’t help but wonder what may have been.