How Senegalese Khaby Lame became the king of TikTok

As the TikTok platform explodes with 1.3 billion users, it’s a Senegalese, Khabane “Khaby” Lame, who has become the world’s most followed TikTokeur in recent days.

“Life isn’t all rosy. If I had to tell you mine, ten interviews wouldn’t be enough. I simply advise everyone not to stop at the first hurdle.” Khaby Lame is the absolute symbol of the success story. Among the biggest social media influencers, he was the quickest to tame his favorite platform thanks to his sarcastic attitude and an original idea.

Khaby Lame is only 22 years old. He is a Senegalese who has lived most of his life in a low-income housing project in a disadvantaged suburb of Turin, northern Italy. He claims to have started working at the age of 19: bricklayer, mechanic, window cleaner, waiter… before being imprisoned for the Covid-19 pandemic, he built during the day and crashed into a restaurant at night.

Today, after overtaking American Charli D’Amelio on TikTok, he is the largest TikTokeur in the world with more than 142 million subscribers. Khaby Lame started publishing on the Chinese platform in early 2020. So its rise generally goes hand in hand with that of TikTok.

The Khaby Lame style

In fact, TikTok surpassed 1.3 billion users today. Zhang Yiming’s video platform aims to reach 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022 and overtake Facebook by the end of 2023.

The peculiarity of Khaby Lame is that he hasn’t said a word since debuting on TikTok. However, his passion for video predates his beginnings as an influencer. The concept is simple: Khaby Lame criticizes the “lifehack” videos, very popular advice videos, with humor. He shows the video with the “trick” to opening a box or ironing a t-shirt… then a much simpler solution, followed by his gesture – which has become his trademark – of hands and an annoyed expression on his face or astonished.

“I speak a universal language that the whole world understands,” Khaby Lame summarizes to Forbes.

What began as a hobby during long-term imprisonment ultimately shaped the career of the young Senegalese. As soon as confinement in Italy ended in June 2020, he chained classified ads. In February 2021, he became one of Hugo Boss’ muses.

A success story and a promising future

Despite his media success, Khaby Lame had to wait until June 2022 to sign his partnership deal with TikTok. Two weeks later he already dethroned the American influencer Charli d’Amelio and became the most followed TikTokeur in the world.

He does not say his success, what he wants to achieve with it. Khaby Lame is currently content with a few collaborations with brands such as Pepsi, Dream11 or the virtual universe of Meta (Facebook), Metaverse. He also receives revenue from TikTok, which totals $2 million a year, and promotes Formula 1 events. His net worth is estimated at $13 million, a far cry from other lesser-known influencers.

Apart from that, Khaby Lame travels the world to meet stars: Kendall Jenner, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, Usain Bolt, Hailey Beiber… all want to pose with Khaby Lame. With his mainstream humor and natural liking, there is no doubt that the young Senegalese will continue his rise and win partnerships with many franchises.

Read: TikTok, the platform for engaged youth

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