The Stunning Transformation Of TikToker Frankie LaPenna

Frankie LaPenna is arguably one of the funniest and fastest-growing comedy stars on TikTok. LaPenna has largely gained virality from wearing his sleeveless beige shirt-and-shorts combo, also boasting a waist-cinching belt to accentuate his hilariously curvy butt. The internet sensation has reached millions of fans as the self-described "most caked up man on the internet." As of June 2024, LaPenna has amassed two million followers on Instagram, 8.6 million fans on TikTok, and 8.72 million YouTube subscribers.

When he began posting videos on the internet, LaPenna worked from his mom's basement. He eventually upgraded to a full-fledged office, featuring high-end furniture and scenic views, as he shared in a May 7, 2024 post on Instagram. Along the way, his amusing approach to internet comedy drew the attention of celebrities, many of whom he has gone on to collaborate with. LaPenna flaunted his behind while dancing with singer Jason Derulo to his 2014 hit, "Wiggle," in September 2022, and a little over a year later, joined WWE legend John Cena, who has had quite the transformation himself, in an ad for Candy Crush.

LaPenna's approach to impactful, quick-witted, short-form entertainment is both a science and an art. "My videos are like a shock-value type of humor where it's like sensationalism and you're almost overwhelmed," he explained in an interview with WZZM. There's no doubt that he has mastered his craft, but how did he get to the top? Here's the story of LaPenna's stunning transformation before and after social media stardom.

He had an adventurous childhood

Frankie LaPenna was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his entire childhood. He grew up with two siblings, Joseph "Joey" LaPenna and Vinnie LaPenna. His early life was action-packed with activities like snowboarding and car meets. He also enjoyed fishing and shared many pictures of his adventures online. In a 2013 post on Instagram, young LaPenna gushed over a catch at Lake St. Clair, which separates Michigan and Ontario, Canada, and wrote, "Caught this bluegill in canada this morning."

As an adult, Frankie stayed true to his Michigan roots, despite finding online success. Although moving to Hollywood was an option, he preferred to remain home because of the community in which he was raised. "The quality of people here in West Michigan is superior," Frankie remarked in his interview with WZZM. He affirmed his decision on The Raz Report by saying, "I hope I'm an example you could do this anywhere. You don't have to be in Los Angeles or New York, or a big city where all of them [content creators] congregate out there ... I would rather be an outlier in a small city ... The only time that I would need to be in California for my video concepts is, like, if I need a palm tree or something."

Frankie LaPenna attended film school

Frankie LaPenna's passion for videography started when he received his first camcorder in the eighth grade. From the get-go, he found the entire process of video production intriguing. "I just thought it was the coolest thing ever that I could make videos and then put them in a timeline, edit them, and then create this, like, digital product," LaPenna recalled in his conversation with The Raz Report. As he attended Grand Rapids Christian High School from 2012 to 2016, LaPenna kept sharpening his videography skills. During that time, he juggled school and small freelancing gigs.

When it was time to go to college, LaPenna decided to attend Michigan's Grand Valley State University. He got started at the institution in 2016, and majored in cinematography and video production. Before graduating in 2020, he gained a lot of work experience. In 2019, he was employed as an archivist for three months at The La Penna Group Inc., an insurance consulting establishment headed by his family. LaPenna later worked at Point O'Pines Camp for Girls in New York, where he served as the video director. He also doubled as an educator and gave lessons to the girls about everything to do with film.

He lost his brother, Joey

Frankie LaPenna's older brother Joseph "Joey" Thomas LaPenna died unexpectedly in 2018 after reported complications related to Kratom . According to their mother, Peggy LaPenna, Joey was a loving child. "Joe was sweet. That would be my one word. He was sweet," Peggy told WOOD-TV at the time. Per his obituary, Joey did well at school. He was a math wizard and was awarded for his prowess in the subject. Growing up, Joey was more inclined toward business, and he went on to work for the family-owned La Penna Group Inc. in a technical role.

His childhood was much like Frankie's, out in nature, and he would sometimes appear in videos the TikTok star made. Just like Frankie, Joey had an eye for photography and a penchant for adventure and stunts. In a January 2013 post on Instagram, Joey shared a picture of his friend skating over a lit ramp. In the comments section, he revealed that they had "poured gas on it" to set it aflame.

On what would have been Joey's 22nd birthday, Frankie shared a throwback picture of the duo having cake on his Instagram in 2018. He accompanied it with heartbreaking picture of his late brother's gravesite and wrote, in part, "Today we celebrate the day Joey was brought into this world. We will never know why God took you away so damn soon. All of us would give anything to be celebrating with you right now."

He began working as a videographer for companies

In September 2020, Frankie LaPenna joined Launch Kit studio as the company's director of photography. LaPenna's job was part-time, since he began creating online content toward the end of that year (details on this next). In an April 2021 Instagram post, LaPenna shared behind-the-scenes pictures from his job. One rare sight showed the TikTok sensation posing in a formal gray suit, a far cry from his popular online persona. "Here's what i'm doing when i'm not making TikTok's," his caption read.

Some of the clients LaPenna handled included the restaurant chain, HopCat, for which he created promotional videos showcasing their menu. When describing his role in an interview with 98 Rock, LaPenna explained, "I was doing, like, client video work on a long-form level, not these short, short-form videos." According to his real estate videography rate flyer, which was shared by Launch Kit founder Kevin Kamis, LaPenna charged between $250 and $600 for his services. This included standard, premium, and ultimate tiers, with special additions — like drone footage and expedited delivery — increasing the cost.

Frankie LaPenna's first funny videos were a dare

In December 2020, Frankie LaPenna began posting funny clips on TikTok. His early beginnings on the social media platform were purely accidental, as LaPenna was merely trying to prove a point to a friend. "I posted because of a bet a buddy made with me. He was showing me these TikToks ... I said, 'This is the most degenerate nonsense, stupid stuff I've ever seen. I could do something more viral and more funny than that,'" he recalled in a conversation with Factz. "I made like three videos or four videos ... the fourth video went super viral, and so I won the bet."

LaPenna was motivated to keep going. Early in his career, he became famous for using a green screen in his skits, which was inspired by the rise of video calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a college student, LaPenna found it hard to attend classes on Zoom as he went about his day, and he opted to use the green screen to create different backgrounds when tuned in. This ultimately became a winning TikTok idea that inspired several viral videos.

LaPenna hopped on Zoom with his camera and green screen strapped to his body while cycling on the road, doing squats in the gym, and even when playing basketball on a trampoline. Some of his stunts were quite dangerous — like him conducting a call from a dirt bike while jumping off of a ramp – which can speak to the dark side of chasing TikTok virality.

He hit 100 million views in two months

Months after he had started posting comical clips on TikTok, Frankie LaPenna continued to deliver on his initial promise of creating viral videos. Between May and June 2021, his TikTok account accumulated 103.1 million video views, 1.5 million profile visits, 10 million likes, 39,000 comments and at least 269,000 new followers.

LaPenna credited the staggeringly high numbers to his ability to ride the video conference wave in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safely put, he was at the right place at the right time. "I think the reason why I was able to get 100 million views in a matter of two months with these videos is because Zoom is on everybody's mind, it's super relatable," he explained to his audience. "It's a new subject that only just recently came out and was enforced, so everyone was indoctrinated with Zoom calls."

When LaPenna's TikTok numbers surged, corporations like the Olympic Games — whose low athlete wages have been questioned in the past — and restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings contacted him for possible collaborations. We'll get to the exact figures LaPenna eventually made later, but he understood that there was a direct correlation between social media numbers and advertisers' interest. "If people stop caring about me and I don't get any attention, then the brands don't want to work with me," LaPenna explained to WZZM. "They want to work with whosoever in the spotlight."

Frankie LaPenna stole the show at a Baltimore Ravens game

Frankie LaPenna caused quite a stir in October 2021 when he logged onto another Zoom meeting, but this time during a Baltimore Ravens game. In the video, shared on the Ravens' TikTok account, LaPenna, who had his signature MacBook strapped to a stand while facing the green screen, made a grand entrance down the stadium stairs as he bit into a hotdog. He cheered for the Ravens, then found a place to sit amongst empty chairs. While sporting the NFL eye black, LaPenna carried out his shenanigans as his colleagues stared in disbelief from the screen.

The ridiculous clip was posted to the Ravens' Facebook account, where it amassed an astounding 92 million views. The video was later entered into the Shorty Awards by the NFL. LaPenna and the NFL received a Bronze Honor in comedy that year and made it to the finals in the "single post or activation" category.

In another video, posted on his YouTube channel, LaPenna told his boss, who called him out for wearing a Ravens jersey during a Zoom call, "Hey, look, boss, I'm super sorry, it won't happen again. Sometimes I just can't help myself when I'm stuck in the office on game day, you know?" Ravens fans who were around him at the tailgate all burst out laughing. It goes without saying that LaPenna doesn't have beef with the league, unlike some popular stars, since he collaborated with the corporation again in 2024.

LaPenna and his girlfriend, Kayla Lewicki, created content together

While Frankie LaPenna never really puts his love life out there, there have been exceptions. In a video posted to TikTok in November 2021, LaPenna and his then-girlfriend Kayla Lewicki appeared in their first joint skit. The "Awkward First Date" clip proved to be a hit, with a viewership in the neighborhood of 72,000 on Lewicki's young TikTok account.

The duo followed it up with a video of yet another peculiar couple interaction: LaPenna sharing his candy by spitting them directly into Lewicki's mouth. Although part of LaPenna's audience thought it was an eyesore, others seemed to love the short video, with it having over 300,000 likes and least 62,400 shared. The bloopers, which LaPenna posted at the request of a fan, were just as funny — the couple couldn't keep a straight face when making the video.

The pair seemed to be going steady, since Lewicki posted a montage of cute, intimate moments between herself and LaPenna in April 2022 with the caption, "Once upon a time, a Kyla met a Frank." LaPenna took to the comments section and playfully asked, "Are we getting married?" To which Lewicki replied, "Most likely." Unfortunately, the couple has been mute since, and according to LaPenna's Facebook profile at the time of writing, he's as single as a pringle.

His butt became the real head-turner

When Frankie LaPenna first featured his larger-than-average butt in a TikTok video, it was a real show-stopper. In the August 2021 clip, LaPenna plays the role of a boyfriend whose huge backside makes his girlfriend's pale in comparison. As of June 2024, it has been viewed over 30 million times and gained 4.8 million likes.

LaPenna upped his butt to a more exaggerated voluptuous look in subsequent videos. The long-running question amongst fans has always been whether his posterior is real or not. In a sidesplitting clip posted to Instagram, the TikTok star pulled some childhood pictures that suggested he always had the viral butt, but these were, of course, edited to give the impression of a born-like-this behind.

LaPenna later monetized his butt by turning it into a board game featuring a spankable replica. "It's a pretty marketable, pretty easy to market game because you've got the slappable butt cheeks," LaPenna told Happy Endings about the product, and added that he had already tested it in the market. In an April 2024 promotional clip, LaPenna unveiled the much-anticipated game, cunningly titled "Butt What?"

He became a full-time influencer

When Frankie LaPenna had gained enough traction on TikTok, he left his work with Launch Kit to be a full-time content creator. In his March 2022 conversation with the Baltimore Ravens' 98 Rock, La Penna disclosed, "I'm transitioning currently from [working with corporations] to being a full-time influencer. I hate that word but ... I guess that's what they call me." He further added that the door to future employment was always open, and if he wanted or needed to return, he would.

Looking back, LaPenna was well equipped to venture out on his own. He may have bashed the thought of working in Hollywood, but in 2018, he had a stint in California as a video editor for Vehicle Virgins. He worked on building the social media presence of the channel's creator, Parker Nirenstein, and in the process acquired a ton of information on what it took to run a personal brand social media. In 2022, LaPenna incorporated FLP Productions LLC, the company under which his brand is housed.

He made thousands of dollars working with different brands

While fans may assume that Frankie LaPenna makes a lot of money because of his billions of views, that isn't too far from the truth. LaPenna shared in an October 2022 video that his earnings from YouTube were a little more than $3,000 monthly. In a similar fashion, he disclosed that he had made $13,000 from a YouTube Shorts clip that garnered 500 million views. These figures are relatively low, considering top YouTubers make millions every year. He further revealed that his TikTok and Instagram accounts didn't bring in any income, despite having an estimated average viewership of 18 million at the time.

LaPenna let it be known that his partnerships with brands were his main source of revenue, and the figures, he said, were in the thousands. "So how much money I make per brand deal varies video to video. It's different every video project and I legally cannot disclose how much money I make for each specific brand deal," he explained. "But I can tell you recently I've done video projects for $12,000, $16,000, $18,000, $25,000, $45,000 working with brands like the NFL, Xfinity, Chubbies Shorts, Gigabyte, the PFL."

The TikTok content creator's other money-making streams include his online merchandise shop, with shirts retailing at prices between $30 and $39. Just as he capitalized on his pear-shaped derriere by making it a board game, he put his signature mustache up for sale in July 2021, and it flew off the shelves.

Frankie LaPenna keeps making viral videos

Since his online breakthrough, Frankie LaPenna hasn't slowed down one bit. His all-time popular video of 2023 was viewed a whopping 200 million times. In it, the Michigan native raced against a Bugatti Chiron – known for its top speed of up to 304 mph – and won! One of LaPenna's most-viewed videos of 2024 was posted in April, and it saw the creator getting dragged on a grassy field by a fire hose. "I'm a trained professional on a closed course. Do not attempt," he warned.

Although LaPenna keeps churning out viral content, the big question is, what does the future look like for the TikTok creator? In his chat with Factz, he hinted at doing longer videos. "I want to try to tackle and conquer long-form media," he said, and added, "I don't know if I have the right personality for long-form, majority of my videos I'm not even talking." With that dream in mind, there's a possibility of LaPenna finding himself in California, since LaPenna named television as another curiosity of his.