From the factory floor to the top of TikTok.
A former factory worker has become the most followed star on TikTok – two years after setting up an account on the social media app after losing his job during the pandemic.
Khabane Lame, 22, on Wednesday became the world’s best TikToker, and officially overtook the American sensation Charli D’Amelio, 18. On Thursday afternoon, Lame has a staggering 142.8 million followers. D’Amelio is close with 142.3 million.
“THE KING IS NUMBER 1 ON TIKTOK,” exclaimed a fan during Lame’s latest clip, after moving into first place.
Lame – who names himself a comedian and shares humorous clips mocking influential influencers and their over-the-top videos – has yet to even comment on the milestone moment.
Lame was born in Senegal in 2000, before immigrating with his parents to Italy the following year.
After high school, he began working as a machine operator in the northern city of Turin, before being fired in March 2020.
“The pandemic had just started and I was bored with a lot of time on my hands, so I started making videos on TikTok,” Lame told Forbes in an interview last March.
The young man began parodying TikTok clips where creators showed off their “simple” hacks to things like cleaning dishes and cutting bangs.
Lame – who is currently learning English – rarely speaks in his videos; his clips are addicted to visual humor and are available to viewers around the world.
“I would describe myself as a simple person, but full of ideas and inspiration,” Lame said. “Making people laugh has always been my biggest passion in life.”
The New York Times attributed Lame’s success to his “everyone’s” quality in a profile published last year.
“His work lacks the polished production value associated with the most famous TikTok stars today … His progress has been completely organic,” the newspaper declared.
“He almost represents this authenticity over production,” added one social media expert. “I find it very appealing to people, this feeling that someone is not trying too hard. It’s something that feels authentic.”
However, he told Forbes that even though his videos look simple, he thinks a lot about creating them.
“Every day I spend at least three hours looking for the right video to parody,” he explained. “I always try to be careful not to offend anyone with my videos, and I always prefer to joke with light-hearted parody.”
Lame’s videos have garnered an astonishing 2.3 billion likes in total, and each of his videos is usually viewed by tens of thousands of people, giving him incredible reach and making him one of the most influential young people on the planet.
However, the star said he is still shocked by his unexpected rise to fame – and soon hopes to move to Hollywood.
“I started doing this for fun, and I never expected any of this,” he said. “My background and journey give me the strength to believe in my dreams and move on, because with commitment and perseverance, they can come true.”