Her mother, Carol,  remarried when McDougal was 9 years old and the family moved to Sawyer, Michigan  where she remained until college. McDougal studied tap dance and ballet as a child. Her childhood dream, prior to teaching and modeling, was to become a ballerina. Her victory caught the eye of Playboy photographer David Mecey. McDougal returned as "Hardbody" of the month in the November issue in a pictorial together with fellow Playmate Katie Lohmann.
Her collectors' figure was originally slated to be the first in the series to be released, however it was delayed due to redesigns. McDougal posed for Toma in the creative process and the pedestal of each statuette bears her signature. The spread contained her first published nudes since her contract with Playboy expired years earlier.
While all Playmates appeared in bikinis in the calendar, McDougal and Hiromi Oshima were the only two Playmates actually wearing only painted on bikinis. The pictorial showcased new paintball products for the holiday season.
The entire production was shot in Russia. In her feature film debut, McDougal's character, Jessemina, is a slave girl who is forced into fighting as a female gladiator in an Ancient Roman colony by its corrupt governor. The role offered McDougal her first opportunity to act in a dramatic role and to demonstrate her physical abilities with the movie's sword fighting sequences.
The movie, initially titled Gladiatrix was deemed to be a knockoff of Gladiator. Although the movie was not well received, it has turned into a lesser known cult film.
The contest took place at The Palms in Las Vegas. Each contestant was given a "wild" challenge to complete and McDougal's challenge was to dress up as Cleopatra and roam the casino at Caesars Palace in the arms of an actor dressed up as Julius Caesar for a day.
She completed her challenge and was considered an early favorite by fellow contestants, but did not advance to the final round of 5 contestants. The special was televised live on Spike TV with a live audience on July 15, True Hollywood Story , which focused on Hugh Hefner. She briefly described her experience at the Playboy Mansion when she was Miss December In mid, McDougal appeared as a fitness model demonstrating all the exercises in a fitness training DVD with Hollywood celebrity fitness trainer Valerie Waters.
It also reported that American Media, Inc. Hope Hicks , speaking for the Trump campaign , denied the existence of an affair between Trump and McDougal, saying that the notion was "totally untrue.
The story was based on McDougal's handwritten memoirs of the affair, which McDougal's friend passed to Farrow. McDougal confirmed to Farrow that she had written the memoirs. Trump kept in contact with McDougal, and they had sex on the first date. During the affair, she met members of his family and he promised to buy her an apartment in New York. To avoid "paper trails", Trump had McDougal pay for flight and hotel expenses when she flew to meet him, then he reimbursed her.
McDougal ended the affair in April due to guilt and being offended by some of Trump's comments. I don't know what I'm allowed to talk about. I'm afraid to even mention his name. AMI said it did not publish McDougal's story as it was not credible, and a spokesperson for the White House denied the affair. She also stated that her sexual relationship lasted ten months and that she was with Trump "many dozens of times".