A fourth-generation businessman who followed in the footsteps of his great-grandmother Elizabeth Trump (who founded the company), grandfather Fred Trump, and father, Trump has served as a longtime executive vice president of the firm, Trump and his brother Donald Jr. are currently running the company during their father's administration. From 2007 to 2016, he led The Eric Trump Foundation, a charity that raised money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In June 2017, it was reported that the Eric Trump Foundation shifted a portion of that money to the Trump Organization ostensibly to cover the expenses of various fundraising events, though charity experts say there was no reasonable cost justification. Trump denies any wrongdoing and pledges to cooperate with any official review of the matter.
Trump was born in Manhattan and attended Trinity School. His parents divorced in 1991, when he was seven years old. As a young boy, Trump spent his summers in the Czech countryside near Zlin with his maternal grandparents. His grandfather, Milos Zelnicek, who died in 1990, was an engineer; his grandmother, Maria, was a worker in a shoe factory. His grandfather taught Trump how to hunt and fish. Trump describes his parents as loving but strict disciplinarians who emphasized hard work, good grades, and clean living."
In 2002, he graduated from The Hill School and subsequently served on its board until 2013. He graduated with a degree in finance and management, with honors, from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Trump started accompanying his father to job sites and negotiations from a very young age. Later in his youth he spent summers mowing lawns, laying tile, cutting rebar, hanging chandeliers, and performing various other work at his father's properties. Trump briefly toyed with the idea of other careers but decided to join the family business while he was a high school student.
Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisitions of the Trump Organization. He worked with his sister, Ivanka, to redesign and renovate Trump National Doral and its Blue Monster course in Miami, Florida.
In 2012, Trump was recognized by Forbes magazine among their "30 under 30" in real estate. In 2013, Trump earned Wine Enthusiast Magazine's "Rising Star of the Year" Award.
In 2007, Eric Trump established the Eric Trump Foundation, a public charity with the purpose to raise money for terminally-ill children and cancer patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tennessee. On November 30, 2012, the foundation committed to raising $20 million over a 10-year period for the naming rights to the new Eric Trump Foundation Surgery & ICU Center in the Kay Research and Care Center, a $198 million tower that was officially opened on February 19, 2015, on the St. Jude campus".
St. Jude’s September 2013 press release stated that the 7th Annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational on September 9, 2013, at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff, New York, had "... raised 1.5 million for the kids of St. Jude", for a total of $6 million since 2006. On December 30, 2016, Richard C. Shadyac Jr., the president of the fundraising organization of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, wrote a letter to the Eric Trump Foundation stating that the foundation and "... related efforts, such as an Eric Trump Foundation-affiliated team that participates in the New York City Marathon", had raised $16.3 million for the hospital since the charity's inception 10 years ago.
On December 21, 2016, Eric announced that he would stop active fundraising for the Eric Trump Foundation as of December 31. The move came to avoid the appearance that donors were using him to gain access to his father after he won the presidential election.
In 2016, the fundraising president of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, stated that The Eric Trump Foundation has raised and donated $16.3 million dollars to the hospital since the charity's foundation.
In June 2017, Forbes reported that the Eric Trump Foundation shifted money intended to go to cancer patients to the family's businesses. Eric Trump had asserted that his foundation got to use Trump Organization assets for free ("We get to use our assets 100% free of charge"), but that appears not to be the case. According to Forbes, more than $1.2 million of the donations went to the Trump Organization for the use of Trump's Westchester golf course and that "Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament." According to a former member of the foundation's board of directors, "We did have to cover the expenses....The charity had grown so much that the Trump Organization couldn't absorb all of those costs anymore." Forbes acknowledged that the charity has done a great deal of good, including an intensive-care unit that opened in 2015 at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, as well as funding cancer research. Trump denies wrongdoing and pledges to cooperate with any review of the matter.
According to Trump, the Foundation's expense ratio is 12.6%, and "at no time did the Trump Organization profit in any way from the foundation or any of its activities".
Forbes also reported that more than $500,000 of the money donated for cancer patients "was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses." According to Forbes, "All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father." The Foundation says that relevant donors were informed that donations would be redirected.
The Eric Trump Foundation has advertised that its golf charity events raised money exclusively for St Jude's Children's Research Hospital, with 95–100% of the money raised going toward the charity. Public tax records show that the foundation applied significant amounts of the funds raised to pay costs of the events to the Trump Organization for use of its facilities. Additionally, the foundation donated to charitable causes other than St Jude and made grants to several other charities, including at least three animal welfare organizations and the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, a California wine industry organization.
Trump said in July 2016 that his father, Donald Trump, had made "hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal donations" to the Eric Trump Foundation in the past, although the Eric Trump Foundation's tax records don't explicitly show such donations. When The Washington Post followed up for evidence, Trump appeared to backtrack and refused to give details.
In June 2017, the New York State Attorney General's Office confirmed that it had begun an inquiry into the Eric Trump Foundation, based on issues raised by the Forbes investigation.
Eric Trump was a key advisor, fundraiser, and campaign surrogate during his father's successful run for the presidency in 2016. Trump and his wife made campaign appearance in numerous states on behalf of his father.
On August 2, 2016, in a television appearance on CBS This Morning, Trump was asked to comment on his father's controversial statement to USA Today the previous day in which he said that if his daughter were ever subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, he hoped she would find another company to work for or switch careers. Eric Trump said, "Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn't allow herself to be objected [sic] to it."
In 2010, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized Trump, a big game hunter, for an African hunting trip he took with Donald Trump, Jr., his older brother. PETA condemned the pair after photos showed the brothers on an organized safari in Zimbabwe, where they hunted animals. The director general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, V. Chandenga, issued an official response supporting the brothers and calling any allegations of illegality "baseless" and "false". Both brothers defended their safari via Twitter, affirming their actions as hunters and longtime advocates of the outdoors. Donald Trump also addressed the controversy, saying on TMZ that he fully supported his sons' actions.
On July 4, 2013, Trump became engaged to his longtime girlfriend Lara Lea Yunaska (born October 12, 1982), an associate producer on the syndicated television news program Inside Edition. They married on November 8, 2014, at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. On September 12, 2017, the two had a son together.