Khaby Lame worked as an industrial worker in Chivasso, Northern Italy. However, when COVID-19 struck, he became one of the many people who got laid off worldwide as a result of the impact of the contagion on businesses and the global economy.
While at home during the COVID lockdown, he took to TikTok and spent several hours posting comedy clips on social media platforms and the clips soon went viral. His most-watched video has over 158 million views. The clip mocks a fellow TikToker who cut himself free from a car door shearing through his T-shirt. Lame makes the same video but instead of reaching for scissors to cut himself free, he simply opens the door to free himself and shrugs.
His rise on the social media platform has been entirely organic and his videos lack a professional touch compared to other famous TikTok stars, some of whom have been approached by Hollywood. His content turns to mock or debunks overproduced content across multiple social media platforms.
“He almost represents this authenticity overproduction. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic,” Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press, told the New York Times. The Publish Press focuses on covering the creator economy.
By the end of 2022, Lame emerged as the most-followed person on TikTok with over 160 million followers, propelling him to stardom as one of the most influential black people in the world.
Now with a social media following of 224 million, he amassed $16.5 million in earnings over the past 12 months, making him one of the highest-paid content creators in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings put him in 11th position on Forbes’ freshly released roster of the world’s leading creators.
A chunk of his income comes from multiple endorsement deals with some of the world’s most renowned brands. Prior to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, he was named as a World Cup ambassador for the largest financial institution in Africa and the Middle East, Qatar National Bank (QNB).
Also, he was signed by Binance, the world’s largest platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, as a brand ambassador. He’s expected to use his signature style to tackle some of the misperceptions around Web3 and also partner on exclusive NFT collections with Binance.
In addition, he has partnerships deals with soccer club PSG and fashion house Hugo Boss. Lame will star in campaigns surrounding Hugo Boss’ re-brand, and will also co-design a capsule collection with the fashion label as part of a multi-year pact, Peopleofcolourintech reported.
In September this year, he reached a new milestone by becoming a video game character. He is featured in the latest season of Epic Games‘ popular battle royale game Fortnite, which centers on a high-stakes heist.
In Fortnite Chapter 4: Season 4, titled “Last Resort,” players can play as Lame after unlocking his “icon series” skin through the Battle Pass system that players need to purchase, which costs 950 V-Bucks, approximately $10 per season.
As Lame, players can break into vaults, evade security cameras, and engage in thrilling gameplay. “I’ve been a big ‘Fortnite’ fan for a long time. I started playing five years ago, and sometimes I posted videos on YouTube or tagged Fortnite in stories. I was thrilled about this game,” Lame expressed to Variety. He also mentioned that he’s most often played as Black Knight in the past.
He disclosed that Epic Games approached him about a year ago for the collaboration, and he enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to become an action hero in a video game. “My reaction was pure excitement,” he recounted. “Who doesn’t want to be an action hero in a video game? It sounded so fun!”