With 142.7 million followers as of last Thursday, Khabane “Khaby” Lame has become the world’s most followed ‘Tiktoker’. Since then, Lame’s following has gained about 2 million additional followers, bringing his total follower count to 144.5 million – over 10% of the video sharing platform’s userbase.
The 22-year-old Senegalese-born creator – who resides in Italy – was one of few social media influencers who shot to fame during the pandemic. When Italy went into lockdown just in early 2020, he started satirising viral ‘life hacks’, without saying a single word. The simplicity and sarcasm in his work has provided immense comic relief for hundreds of millions of social media users around the world.
“The funniest part of my content is the silence. Silent comedy speaks a language that everybody in the world can understand,” said Lame in an interview with Vogue.
According to him, Italy takes up about 15% of his audience, South America 25%, and the US 30%, leaving about 30% to the rest of the world.
Prior to TikTok fame, Lame spent most of his life in low-income housing in a poor suburb of Turin in northern Italy. He worked in a series of low-paying jobs trying to make ends meet, his last one being at a factory from which he was laid off.
His staggering TikTok fame has reportedly translated to a net worth of over 13 million US dollars as of 2022.
Lame unseated long-time number one Tiktoker Charli D’Amelio, an 18-year-old American who held the position for two years. Asked about Lame’s new status in an interview, D’Amelio expressed no bad blood. “I had No. 1 for two years. It’s time for someone else to have that spot, and I’m proud of him. He’s a friend, and there’s no bad blood. It feels great to know that someone else is getting that spot — someone that is sweet and a good person and loves what they do,” said D’Amelio.
However, D’Amelio still holds the number one spot in Forbe’s highest-paid influencer list, with a net worth of 17.5 million USD. D’Amelio and her family have been able to monetise their platforms better with numerous brand deals, a clothing line, and media shows.
Nonetheless, Lame has also created a fortune for himself, especially in comparison to his financial standing before he became a TikTok creator. The star recently launched a capsule collection with Boss, featuring a varsity jacket, hoody, and “Khaby” doll which is meant to be used as an accessory that can be snapped on to the clothes. Lame has intentions of launching more collections in the future. His relationship with the brand started in February 2021 when he came one of Hugo Boss’s muses.
Lame has had collaborations with Pepsi, Dream 11 of Meta and so on. Additionally, he receives about 2 million dollars in annual income from TikTok alone as well as income from his promotion of Formula 1 races. Lame signed a partnership contract with TikTok in June 2022.
He has also expressed hopes of becoming a movie star after he learns English. “I want to be an actor, like Will Smith. He started with comedy, then he made more dramatic movies. He’s done all sorts of films, he’s a great actor and I would like to be like him. In fact my passion for acting started with him, watching him in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Watching that show, I realized that I also wanted to make people laugh,” said Lame.
Its is clear that Khaby Lame has only just begun.