CNN  — 

All eyes are once again on Donald Trump.

The real estate mogul and TV reality star launched his presidential campaign on June 16, ending more than two decades of persistent flirtation with the idea of running for the Oval Office.

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“So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” Trump told a crowd of supporters and curious observers in a lengthy and meandering 45-minute announcement speech.

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Trump’s announcement speech debuted a controversy-laden campaign that defied political gravity as the billionaire businessman uttered one divisive and controversial statement or policy proposal after the next.

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Flirting with a run for years

It wasn’t the first time Trump had floated a presidential run, coming closest to throwing his hat in the ring four years earlier before ultimately bowing out and endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Many thought Trump’s toying with a presidential run in 2015 was just the latest in a long line of presidential flirtations that started in 1987 and were revived in 1999, 2004 and 2008 as well.

In between, Trump had become known not just for building skyscrapers and golf courses around the world, but also as a reality television star through his 14-season run as host of “The Apprentice.”

The showhelped make Trump a household name and cemented the real estate mogul’s image as a tough, bold businessman with a knack for deal-making, a key plank of Trump’s appeal to voters.

But Trump’s celebrity status was also something he had to overcome as he worked to pitch himself to voters as a serious candidate capable of running the country.

He has flaunted his wealth and success in business as a centerpiece of his presidential platform, trumpeting a $10 billion net worth, though Forbes estimated it at roughly $4 billion.

The billionaire pledged from the start to self-fund his presidential campaign, not only ridding himself of some outside influences, but also freeing up more time to campaign, because candidates often devote a tremendous amount of time to raising funds.

“I’m really rich,” Trump famously said during his announcement speech, adding that his confident attitude is what the country needs after having “losers” run the country.

Trump has still accepted $6.5 million in contributions to his campaign since launching his bid, but has also injected about $12 million of his own money and disavowed any super PACs looking to support him early in the race.

No stranger to politics

While campaigning as an outsider, Trump is no stranger to politics.

For years before officially announcing his bid, Trump courted right-wing talk show hosts and hard-line conservative politicians and activists.

He famously fanned the flames of the “birther” movement in 2011 and today takes credit for President Barack Obama’s decision to release his birth certificate.

Trump will now do battle for the Republican nomination with a crowd of more conventional politicians, including a scrum of governors and senators.

He stands out in another way beside his brash, attention-grabbing public persona; he’s hardly an orthodox conservative on a range of issues.

Trump regularly bashes trade deals with China, Mexico and other countries. He’s spoken favorably about higher taxes on the wealthy. And he talks up protecting Social Security and Medicare in the social insurance programs’ current forms, rather than making them more state-based, as some other Republican candidates advocate.

CNN”s David Mark contributed to this report.