TikTok has a new reigning champion. Khaby Lame, a 22-year-old Senegalese-born creator, became the most-followed person on TikTok last night, surpassing American TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, who formerly had the distinction. Lame now has more than 142.7 million followers compared to D’Amelio’s 142.3 million.
Lame becoming the most popular personality on TikTok is notable given past issues raised by users on the platform around how creators of color — and specifically Black creators — are treated.
Lame’s ascent and unseating of D’Amelio is significant. D’Amelio and her sister, Dixie, are two of the central figureheads of TikTok, building an entire media brand atop what they themselves admit was initially accidental stardom. Their meteoric rise to fame through seconds-long dancing videos has perplexed people not on TikTok — and inspired millions of followers to try to do the same. The sisters earned an estimated $27.5 million last year, according to estimates by Forbes.
Lame started his TikTok account in March 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic after he lost his job working at a factory in Italy. In November 2020, D’Amelio became the first TikTok user to cross the 100 million subscriber mark.