Khaby Lame ascended to the TikTok throne in June when he unseated another popular influencer to become the platform’s most followed personality. Famous for using silence, gestures and signature facial expressions, Lame is cashing in on his top-tier social media status.
The 22-year-old has nearly 150 million followers on TikTok and 2.4 billion likes on his videos. According to Fortune, Lame said he gets paid as much as $750,000 per post to his massive audience. His manager, Alexander Riggio, told the outlet Lame is on track to earn $10 million by the end of the year.
Lame’s income is primarily from brand deals – including $400,00 per collaboration clip, $450,000 from Hugo Boss, and $750,000 from a major Hollywood studio for one sponsored post, Fortune reported. (An agency told Fortune Lame’s collaboration fee is closer to $350,000.)
Lame and Riggio also co-founded Iron Corporation, a creative agency that manages the social media presence and monetization plays of athletes, actors and fellow creators.
“Most influencers get to a certain point in their career where they’ve endorsed and supported a number of brands and have a flat fee for these structures, but they start to want a bit more incentive or upside from those relationships,” Raina Penchansky, CEO and co-founder of influencer management company Digital Brand Architects, which manages 180 creators, told Fortune. “That’s when we start to more meaningfully discuss ways for them to get into deeper relationships with companies or around companies they want to start.”
Lame’s unique brand of humor and strategic business moves have earned him adoring fans and a lucrative income to take care of his family. “I like making people laugh. I love my family. I love my company,” Lame told Fortune.
Senegalese-born and Italy-raised, Lame is currently learning English so he can create even more opportunities for himself and leverage his TikTok Fame. One of his methods is binge-watching American cartoons for three hours per day.
“The days here blend together. Monday or Saturday, it doesn’t matter.” Lame told Forbes in March. “I’m currently studying English, it’s fun and I’m learning fast.”
Lame, who said he hopes to one day win an Oscar, encouraged people not to allow challenges or others’ judgment to keep them from going after their dreams.
“Every day I wake up doing what I love,” Lame told an Italian outlet, according to Inc. “People are so influenced by the judgment of others. They stop chasing dreams just because somebody told them that they cannot make it or shouldn’t do it. I am living proof that everyone can improve their life no matter where they come from.”