TikTok Millionaire: How Khaby Lame Went From Penniless To Millionaire Without Saying A Word

TikTok star Khaby Lame was laid off from his factory job like many during the pandemic, but with his caustic look and a few meaningful hand gestures, he managed to create a million-dollar fortune, all without saying a word. The young Senegalese influencer is now the second creator to accumulate over 100 million followers on the platform, surpassing even Bella Poarch.

A post shared by Khaby Lame (@khaby00)

It has been a meteoric and unexpected career path for the young man who is originally from Senegal but has grown up in public housing near Chivasso, Italy, since he was one.

Laid off and locked down

A post shared by Khaby Lame (@khaby00)

At the time, TikTok was a new platform that was gaining traction, and Lame went against the advice of his father, who reportedly begged him to apply for another job elsewhere. Instead, Lame spent hours posting videos on the social media platform.

The everyman of the internet

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Lame acknowledged that much of his fame comes from the fact that he doesn’t usually speak in his clips. He told the New York Times that the success of his videos was because he speaks a “global language,” “It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh,” he added. According to him, he has a huge following in Brazil, the United States, and Senegal.

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“His content almost debunks or mocks the overproduced trends that happen across social media, whether it’s life hacks or other things like that,” said Samir Chaudry, founder of The Publish Press, a newsletter covering the creator economy.

Lame’s “global language” has transformed him from a nobody 18 months ago to a Generation Z celebrity with a massive 113 million TikTok followers. With that big of a following, people start to take notice, and offers to make money start to come in.

Brand deals and Merch sales

A post shared by Khaby Shop ®️ (@khabyshopofficial)

“Being an international star,” he said, “I’m much more in demand.”

The social media star also has a successful Instagram page with 46.3 million followers. He uses this, as well as his TikTok profile, to push fans toward his online merchandise store. It is not known how much the creator pulls in from the store, but it’s a safe bet he’s getting a bigger paycheck than when he worked at the factory.

Fans of Lame can find a variety of items from his videos on the store, including T-shirts, “magic” candles, a watermelon cutter, and a popcorn machine.

Difficulties back home

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Work opportunities have poured in, but there have been struggles for the ascending star. His Senegalese passport means he’s found it harder to work in the US than if he carried an Italian one, and he still doesn’t have citizenship in the country despite spending most of his life there.

“Sincerely, I don’t need a piece of paper to define myself as Italian,” he said, adding that his lack of an Italian passport had never given him any problems, “Until now at least.”

Italian citizenship is based on blood and can be obtained only by the children of immigrants who reach age 18 after living in the country since birth. For those not born in Italy, it can take much longer. As a result, Lame is still dealing with Italian bureaucracy and paperwork to get his citizenship.

Even with his setbacks, Lame is on a trajectory to overtake Charli D’Amelio for the number one spot on the platform. This Summer, he climbed up to second place by overtaking Addison Rae. He has just 11 million fewer subscribers than D’Amelio and has gained 30 since July 2021.

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Source: New York Times, TikTok, TechieGamers

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