McDougal studied ballet and tap dance with a dream to become a ballerina. While she was in her high school, she worked as a cheerleader, band member, and a member of the color guard. She also played volleyball and softball in her school and graduated in 1989.
Later, McDougal enrolled at Ferris State University, where she majored in Elementary Education. After completing her education, she started working as a preschool teacher in Detroit, Michigan. After sometimes, she became the winner of local Venus Swimwear swimsuit competition earning a spot at the international finals in Florida.
After winning this competition, McDougal was called by David Mecey for a test shoot at Playboy Studio West and got a chance to try out for Playboy magazine. The American businessman and magazine publisher Hugh Hafner announced McDougal as the 1998 Playmate of the Year and awarded $100,000 as the cash prize.
McDougal, then, appeared on the cover of numerous following issues of Playboy. She also featured on The Magic Hour to promote her PMOY issue. In March 1999, she became the first woman to feature on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. She also developed her career in modeling by featuring in fitness and several bodybuilding magazines including Muscle & Fitness in January 2000, Physical in June 2004 and Iron Man.
Later, McDougal featured in numerous magazine covers, pin-up posters, advertising campaigns, calendars, clothing, promotional events, swimwear, and lingerie catalogs. She also appeared in numerous television shows including Charlie's Angels, Joe Dirt, The Girl Next Door, Grind, Lovespring International, Anger Management, and The O'Reilly Factor.
McDougal is an American by nationality and belongs to white ethnicity. She is yet to marry. She had an alleged affair with Donald Trump over a decade ago. Donald married his longtime girlfriend, Melania Trump, after dating her for sometimes. McDougal met Donald Trump during a party and began dating each other.
The couple dated each other for several months before they separated from each other. Later, McDougal claimed that Trump offered her money after they had sex. Following her break-up with Trump, McDougal’s friend John Crawford said that she was feeling guilty regarding her affair with Trump. In 2007, she had an affair with her boyfriend Bruce Willis, an actor.
As a model and actress, McDougal earns more than $60,419 annually. She is a former Playboy model and earned between $55,989-$60,516 while she was working for the company. According to some source, her current net worth in 2018 is estimated to be $1 million.