If you’ve been wondering who the most popular TikTok star in the world is, you’ve come to the right place.
He’s 22-year-old Khabane “Khaby” Lame, and with 142.5 million followers, he has now surpassed American Charli D’Amelio to become the most followed sensation on the social media platform.
The 18-year-old D’Amelio has held the top spot since 2020, but Lame has now officially toppled the reigning TikTok queen from her glossy and heavily made-up throne.
Lame’s story isn’t without a certain “everyman” appeal, since the Senegalese immigrant—unlike D’Amelio—comes from humble beginnings, and only joined the platform on a lark back in 2020, during the darkest days of the global pandemic, after he was fired from his factory job.
Khaby lame has official passed Charli D’amelio in followers! pic.twitter.com/b6pPHlcKZ5
— Whirlpool – #WhirlpoolSMP (@WhirlpoolNation) June 22, 2022
Khaby Lame’s story is unreal.
He was fired from his factory job during COVID, so he created a TikTok account and now has 143 million followers.
That’s more than anyone else in the world, and he did it without literally saying a single word in his videos.
That’s incredible 🤯 pic.twitter.com/agWCpg2sIY
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) June 24, 2022
Seeking relief from boredom, he began posting humorous videos in which he silently mocked his fellow TikTokers. Since then he’s been invited to all manner of glamorous galas and events and has entered the ranks of the many inexplicably wealthy and famous people who abound these days.
According to the Daily Mail, Lame was born in the small West African country of Senegal, but his family relocated to Chivasso, Italy, when he was still an infant. His upbringing was anything but glamorous, but Lame doesn’t reject his origins, saying instead that his time in public housing units molded him into the man he’s become.
An example of one of his videos can be viewed below:
@khaby.lame Tag your friends who simulate frequently 🤣@433 #learnfromkhaby #learnontiktok @tiktok @tiktokcreators ♬ suono originale – Khabane lame
“Public housing is a place to which I owe everything,’ he explained. ‘They taught me education and allowed me to cultivate many bonds.”
In 2020, Lame was employed as a machine operator at a factory in Turin (Torino, for you Olympics aficionados) when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. He soon found himself unemployed, along with many others, and with nothing to do amid the dreadful days of Italy’s early quarantine. Naturally, he turned to TikTok.
“The pandemic had just started, and I was bored with a lot of time on my hands so I started making videos on TikTok,” he said.
Lame’s routine is quite different from his rival’s, who rose to fame with viral dance numbers. Charli D’Amelio is the daughter of former model Heidi D’Amelio and Connecticut businessman Marc D’Amelio, and her upbringing was worlds removed from Lame’s.
Lame’s schtick was to mock the “life-hack” videos that circulate on the platform, acting out the tips in the videos but never once uttering a word. Perhaps that contributed to his popularity since there was no language barrier to overcome.
“I came up with the idea because I was seeing these videos circulating,” he said last year, in an interview on CNN, “and I liked the idea of bringing some simplicity to it. I thought of a way to reach as many people as possible. And the best way was not to speak.”
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