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The Bizarre Story Behind Neekolul's Rise To Fame

Neekolul seemingly came out of nowhere in 2020, mesmerizing viewers with her Bernie Sanders themed dance Tik Tok, set to the tune of "Oki Doki Boomer" by Senzawa. She's supposedly worth millions of dollars, though she stated that she hasn't seen much of that money, and she continues to grow in popularity.

While fans have probably seen Neeko's TikToks and YouTube videos, her quick rise to fame obscured some of her earlier work and inspirations. Neeko's recent popularity also had an unfortunate side effect: trolls. Despite constant efforts to protect herself, Neekolul constantly faces online harassers who want to know every little detail about her, including what she looks like without makeup. Even though Neeko's fans can be somewhat lewd at times, she's handled it all in stride, keeping a positive smile on her face. By opening up to her fans about personal trauma, continuing to create fun content, and staying true to herself, Neeko has stayed in the spotlight.

It's time to take a deep dive into Neeko's past and learn how this TikTok phenomenon eventually parlayed a viral hit into something much more.

Neekolul grew up as a gamer

Even though Neekolul became known for a viral dancing TikTok, she's loved video games her entire life. In an interview with KnowYourMeme, Neeko said she's always played video games, starting with the PlayStation. "I've always been into gaming since I was little." she explained. "It started off with a PS1 when I was 7 years old, and my love for gaming only grew from there." As Neeko grew up, she decided she wanted to turn her love of games into some sort of career, but she wasn't sure how. After a friend volunteered to help her stream, she jumped straight into the deep end of online content. 

Now, Neekolul has moved on to PC gaming for the most part, where she streams games like League of Legends and Dead by DaylightNeeko frequently discusses her love of games on her Twitter account. In one tweet, she said, "Sex is temporary, gaming is forever," professing her undying love for games. While the tweet was a playful nod to fellow streamer Froste, Neeko's passion for games shows. She's incredibly skilled at League of Legends and holds her own with the 100 Thieves team. Even though Neeko never wanted to be a big Twitch streamer per se, it's not for lack of love for the game.

Neekolul tried to be a YouTuber at first

While many fans associate Neekolul with viral success, she actually worked for a few years before making it big. Neeko originally wanted to be a YouTuber, and even recorded some videos to help get started.

While most of Neeko's early videos have been deleted, a little internet digging turns up her very first YouTube video. In one of her earliest videos, Neeko provided a Spanish-language apartment tour of her home, generously showing her audience around. The description for the video mentions Twitch, meaning that Neeko was already on the streaming platform working her way towards internet stardom.

After trying her hand at variety videos on YouTube and streaming League of Legends on the side, Neeko began moving into the gaming and meme sphere. She even branched out onto other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and most infamously, TikTok, where her Bernie meme took off.

The bottom line is that even though Neekolul seemed to appear overnight, she quietly worked to be a content creator for a long time. Her success is the result of years of playing games and fine tuning her onscreen persona. Even in her early videos, like the house tour, Neeko's vibrant personality shines through.

The small beginnings of Neekolul

Even before Neekolul's Bernie dance went viral, she danced on social media, including TikTok. Neeko's first TikTok featured her dancing to "Already Dead" by Lil Boom. "Already Dead" inspired a dance challenge on TikTok, so Neeko didn't come up with her sweet moves all on her own, but that didn't stop her from executing it perfectly.

In an interview celebrating her inclusion in 100 Thieves, Neeko explained that her first TikTok got a couple hundred thousand views, which made her feel welcome on the platform. Initially Neeko felt hesitant to use TikTok, but she quickly realized that TikTok's users loved her, so she began making more videos. After her first video, Neeko went on to participate in several other dance challenges before moving into other sorts of videos. In one TikTok, Neeko channeled her inner Sofia Vergara to celebrate her Latin heritage.

In March of 2020, Neekolul went viral for her dance to "Oki Doki Boomer." It turns out that dancing while wearing a Bernie Sanders campaign shirt during an election year earns a good deal of attention.

Even after her viral success, Neekolul's first TikTok only has about 200 comments from fans, as opposed to the nearly 4,000 comments on her "Oki Doki Boomer" video.

Neekolul faced scrutiny after her viral hit

After Neekolul's "Oki Doki Boomer" went viral, and fans online and in mainstream media began to take notice, she became the subject of intense scrutiny. Fans wanted to criticize Neeko for everything, including details of her personal life, and things often got heated in her comment sections.

Vice's Gita Jackson discussed some of the criticism Neeko faced in an article about women on the internet. Jackson also compared Neeko to other young celebrities who have been scorned by the media, like Britney Spears. Young women are judged, both by men and women, for their actions, and Jackson called for people to just "let the 'OK Boomer' girl live." 

Neekolul lost several thousand followers after mentioning that she had a boyfriend, or at least that's what a lot of sources claimed. On Sodapoppin's podcast, however, Neekolul clarified that she lost followers for a temporary Twitter ban, not the mention of her boyfriend. "The whole losing followers [thing] is not true," Neeko said. She explained that when people lose a Twitter account, their numbers can deflate because of an error with Twitter's code, not because of an actual change in followers. Of course, the narrative of the incident remains that Neeko lost followers, all because she was off the market.

Neekolul joins 100 Thieves and thrives

Neekolul joined the massively successful competitor streamer group 100 Thieves in 2020, successfully maneuvering her sudden fame into the pursuit of what she wanted to do all along: gaming and content creation. The team seemed happy to have Neeko join the group, and posted videos announcing her membership.

In one video, the 100 Thieves members played a prank war on each other, ending in the reveal that Neekolul would be joining the group. Neeko said she'd actually been helping the group for several months behind the scenes, and that joining seemed like a natural conclusion.

In a more serious interview, Neekolul explained that she wanted to join 100 Thieves because she enjoyed the prospect of every member playing a character, or rather a heightened version of themselves. Neeko said that thinking of her work as a performance helps her because she's painfully shy and takes a while to warm up to people. Though Neeko "plays" herself, she says she exaggerates certain aspects of her personality, becoming even more herself, when she streams. Neeko reported that making friends in 100 Thieves was difficult at first, but soon she fit right in with the group.

Neeko reaches a bigger fanbase with 100 Thieves

Neeko continued to work hard building her brand with 100 Thieves. In a playful interview with 100 Thieves intern JHBT, Neekolul said that when she went viral, people didn't believe in her and saw her success as completely random.

When JHBT asked Neeko what movie best describes her life, she responded with Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Neeko said that she identifies with Scott because people didn't "I feel like when all this stuff happened to me a lot of people were, like, really surprised, cause like, it was super random and like, who is this girl, and it felt like no one really believed in me."

Neeko has continued to work hard in 100 Thieves. In 2020, Neeko helped 100 Thieves launch "No Camping," a line of streetwear clothing. To help promote the clothes, Neeko recorded a TikTok to share with her massive audience, modeling the clothes and taking advantage of a popular TikTok song. As content creators continue looking to merchandise as a way to boost revenue and gain more followers, influencers like Neeko make all the difference in terms of advertising. With a built in fanbase, and snazzy TikTok skills, Neeko can reach more potential buyers than 100 Thieves could alone.

Cooking with Neeko

Now that Neekolul has earned a large following, she's becoming more comfortable with being herself and exploring all the different facets of her life, including cooking. Sure, Neeko still plays League of Legends and dances, but she's also having fun in the kitchen and sharing some great life skills with fans.

In her first cooking stream, Neeko made a couple of exciting, internet-worthy dishes. Of course, both sweet treats were also cute. Neeko ambitiously tackled both a Japanese fruit sandwich and turtle shaped conchas, a sweet Mexican bread with a distinctive sugary topping. A later stream saw Neeko cooking an elaborate menu of treats, including Fruity Pebbles marshmallow treats, a s'mores bar, cheesecake strawberry bites, and churro flan. 

Neekolul's cooking streams often include mukbang elements, where Neeko will eat the things she cooks on screen as she answers fan questions from the chat. For the uninitiated, mukbangs generallyentail a person eating on screen while talking to their audience. These videos provide an audio-visual experience that some people find pleasurable, like ASMR. Though Neeko doesn't bill these portions of the stream as a mukbang per se, there are plenty of aesthetic similarities, and fans enjoy chatting with their favorite streamer at the end of a lengthy cooking session.

Neekolul continues to be a savvy businesswoman

Neekolul hasn't rested on her laurels since joining 100 Thieves. She continues to grow her brand by partnering with big name companies and collaborating on different projects. In addition to her work on the 100 Thieves "No Camping" clothing line, Neeko has also worked with sponsors who support 100 Thieves.

In one cooking stream, Neeko received sponsorship from familiar 100 Thieves-endorsed brands like Rocket Mortgage and JBL. While the stream had little to nothing to do with the brands, Neeko's viewership acts as a good opportunity for sponsors to get their name out there.

On Neeko's personal accounts, she's also worked with sponsors to advertise giveaways and products. In one tweet, Neeko encouraged her fans to enter a giveaway for a free Backbone. In another, she advertised a new phone. Neeko even teamed up with Rockstar Energy and CD Projekt to promote a Cyberpunk 2077 themed giveaway.

By working with brands, Neeko is able to earn money and continue doing what she loves: working with 100 Thieves and making great content. Neekolul is one of the few viral TikTok stars who has been able to maneuver a hit video into a larger, dedicated following. She'll no doubt continue to bring joy to many.