The new TikTok king: Khaby Lame gains 142.9 million followers by being silent

Khaby Lame has dethroned dancer Charli D’Amelio as an absolute TikTok phenomenon. The Senegalese now has 142.9 million followers to his name, 600,000 more than his closest competitor. Don’t panic if his name doesn’t ring a bell yet, you’ll get a short introduction here.

Lame has been called the ‘Mister Bean’ of social media because he never speaks up. What distinguishes him then? Well, in his own inimitable style, he gets rid of useless life hacks. You know them, the tricks that are meant to make life simpler. However, they usually tend to complicate things unnecessarily. Lame makes good use of that contrast.

Take, for example, the guy who has his shirt stuck between the car door. In the end, he thinks of no better than to cut the piece of textile with a pair of scissors. Lame then shows how it is possible: open the door from the inside through the open window.

Or how about smart people who peel a banana by cutting the peel according to a certain pattern? Lame answers them by simply using his hands. At the end of each cutscene, he gestures at the result with palms spread open and shakes his head sympathetically, as if to say, “Look, it can be done that way.”

That Lame would eventually become the absolute number one, had been coming for a while. In the past month, he gained three million followers thanks to the hashtag #KhabyToNumberOne that his fans created for him. D’Amelio collected ‘only’ one million extra followers in that period.

Lame was born in Senegal. When he was one year old, he moved with his parents to the region of Turin. The lockdown inspired him to be funny with reactions to existing videos. The life of the young ex-factory worker immediately took a fairytale turn.

For example, he now earns money through advertisements that he shows to his millions of audiences between his own videos. Italian media estimate that he can earn tens of thousands of euros per post with his current number of followers.

Last year Lame was invited as a special guest at the Venice Film Festival. In the meantime, he also signed a long-term deal with luxury brand Hugo Boss. The secret of his success? “Keep it really simple,” Lame told CNN. “The hand gesture came about by accident, but I deliberately kept silent. I wanted to reach as many people as possible, and the best way to do that is by saying nothing.”

The fame also brought him into contact with famous football players and actors. As a big Juventus fan, he has already made films with Alessandro Del Piero and Paulo Dybala. It remains his big dream to make a film with Will Smith one day, but first, he has to get an Italian passport.

Obtaining citizenship in Italy is a very complicated and bureaucratic process, even for migrants who have lived in the country for most of their lives. “It’s only now that I’m famous that my citizenship interests people. No one cared about this. If others are inspired by my story, I would be happy about that. I’m lucky,” concludes Lame.

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