The Untold Truth Of TikToker Frankie LaPenna

What do you get if you cross an impressively thick mustache, a series of increasingly outlandish Zoom sessions, and the kind of curvy butt that would make Kim Kardashian green with envy? Well, anyone who's chronically online will already know that the answer is up-and-coming viral comedian Frankie LaPenna.

The Michigan native has racked up millions of followers across YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram thanks to his attention-grabbing skits and stunts, whether it's skateboard jumping over a Pagani Huayra worth $3 million, staging a business meeting while leaping out of an airplane, or launching a custom-made booty bus. And all this from a personality who was practically unknown just a few years ago.

LaPenna has plans to expand his already massive reach, too, telling Factz, "I want to try to tackle and conquer long-form media. I don't know if I have the right personality for long-form, majority of my videos I'm not even talking." But he's still very much one of the top short-form entertainers online. From family tragedies and film school beginnings to celebrity collabs and corporate concerns, here's a closer look at the self-proclaimed "most caked up man on the internet."

Frankie LaPenna graduated from film school

Frankie LaPenna might not be giving the likes of directors like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Christopher Nolan a run for their money yet. But when he has had enough of wiggling his booty in videos, the TikToker has the skills to make the leap into something a little less frivolous.

Indeed, after graduating from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 2016, LaPenna earned a place on the Cinematography and Video/Film Production course at Grand Valley State University. The internet star told "The Raz Report" that he first discovered his passion for creating videos in the eighth grade when he got his own camcorder: "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."

But it doesn't seem as though LaPenna has any interest in conquering Hollywood just yet. Discussing his decision to stay in Michigan, despite all of his online fame, he said, "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."

He worked at a summer camp

In 2019, Frankie LaPenna spent three months at Point O'Pines Camp for Girls giving a masterclass in his number one talent. And it wasn't anything to do with satirical Zoom meetings or comically oversized derrières. No, the TikToker was tasked with inspiring a group of 11-15 year-olds to become videographers.

Explaining further on his LinkedIn page, an uncharacteristically sensible LaPenna said, "I shot and edited video on a daily basis, which then was compiled into an hour-long recap of the summer camp experience, I sorted and archived hundreds of files on multiple computers, and I learned how to operate according to the structure of a large-scale media operation."

Although LaPenna had yet to become the viral star we all know and love, he still had plenty of media experience under his belt. After graduating from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Cinematography and Video/Film Production, he worked as an archivist for three months at The La Penna Group, where he helped preserve various historic artifacts and interviewed war veterans.

Frankie LaPenna's online career started as a bet

It's fair to say that Frankie LaPenna didn't meticulously plot the online rise to fame that has resulted in millions of followers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In fact, he only started posting content as a wager with a friend.

In his conversation with Factz, the Grand Rapids native recalled how a friend encouraged him to join TikTok in December 2020. "I posted because of a bet a buddy made with me," LaPenna said. "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.'"

Putting his money where his mouth is, LaPenna then uploaded three videos without gaining much traction. But his fourth attempt soon went "super viral," and within the months of May and June 2021 alone, his Zoom-based skits racked up an astonishing 100 million views. The videographer believes that the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in him finding such a super-sized audience: "Zoom is on everybody's mind, it's super relatable," he explained in a TikTok. "It's a new subject that only just recently came out and was enforced, so everyone was indoctrinated with Zoom calls." Needless to say, LaPenna won his friendly wager.

Frankie LaPenna lost his older brother

Frankie LaPenna experienced a major family tragedy in 2018 when his older brother, Joseph "Joey" Thomas, died following a reported accidental overdose from kratom at the age of just 21.

In an interview with Wood TV, mother Peggy LaPenna said, "Joe was sweet. That would be my one word. He was sweet. He was kind. He had many friends who loved him and adored him. In fact, after he passed, 20-plus of them went and got a tattoo in honor of him ... He's a good kid who got caught up in drugs, and, I think, experimented and then it grabbed hold of him and it just wouldn't let go."

Joey, who had a technical role in the family business La Penna Group Inc., had appeared in many of his younger brother's online videos. And in an Instagram post on the day he would have turned 22, Frankie paid a heartfelt tribute, captioning a photo of his graveside and a snap of the pair as young kids: "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 created the number one most-viewed NFL reel

Frankie LaPenna has become just as renowned for his Zoom-based hijinks as he has his magnificent butt and impressive mustache. Indeed, in 2021, he went viral for a sketch in which he staged an online meeting with his familiar MacBook and giant circular green screen set-up while attending a Baltimore Ravens game at the M&T Bank Stadium.

NFLonFox, Bleacher Report, and SportsCenter were just a few of the major platforms who shared the hilarious clip, while Instagram featured it in their regular series, "Things This Week That Made Us Smile." As a result, the skit racked upwards of 100 million views and was recognized at the Shorty Awards, winning a comedy Bronze Medal and also reaching the finals of the single post or activation category.

And that's not all. LaPenna's partnership set the record for the NFL's most-viewed Reel of all time (29.3 million) and most popular Ravens TikTok clip (17 million). Little wonder, therefore, that the social media sensation has been courted by the NFL to produce viral content several times, including the time he was invited by the league to run a 40-yard dash.

Frankie LaPenna is a 'chief asset office'

In 2024, underwear label Shinesty appointed Frankie LaPenna as "Chief A** Officer," a position which when said aloud sounds like he joined the corporate ladder, but certain letters being capitalized reveals it's simply a pun-tastic marketing stunt.

Yes, capitalizing on the asset — namely his derrière — that had catapulted LaPenna to viral success, Shinesty signed the TikToker to front their latest campaign. "Frankie is the perfect fit to be our CAO," reasoned the brand's CEO Chris White in a press statement. "Why? Let's just say there are two big reasons: left cheek and right cheek ... There's not a better product tester out there. We'll know within seconds if there are any inefficiencies with our stitching or stretching as soon as the underwear goes over his Rumpasaurus Rex."

LaPenna — whose first task was to design and launch a new version of the Ball Hammock Pouch Underwear — was just as cheeky when he spoke about his decision to align himself with the company. "Ever since I can remember, my inseams have been on life support when it comes to containing this ham," he wrote. "Now I know my money maker is safe, protected in a luxury fabric and supportive pouch."

He starred in an ad with John Cena

Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena has worked alongside some of the most talented comedians in the business. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey in "Sisters," for example, or Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in "Trainwreck." In 2024, he got the chance to add the man renowned for his supersized bottom to that prestigious list.

Indeed, the "Vacation Friends" actor shared the screen with Frankie LaPenna in an advertising campaign for the world's most addictive mobile game. Sporting a fetching pink and purple sweat suit, Cena plays a Candy Crush coach leading various competitors into battle for a $1 million tournament. A nearby LaPenna can only stare in awe as the muscle man and his proteges walk past. But then with nothing more than a nod of the head, he's summoned to join the elite group for the contest, quickly changing into a similarly colorful vest and shorts in the process.

In his behind-the-scenes YouTube video, LaPenna discussed how proud he was to be invited: "Candy Crush somehow decided for this campaign that the two people they wanted to choose on the entire internet were me and John Cena, which is insane! Yeah, this is definitely a lot higher production than my usual TikTok s*** vids."

Frankie LaPenna had a producer girlfriend

Regular viewers of Frankie LaPenna's content will already be aware of Kayla Lewicki, his director/producer ex-girlfriend who occasionally popped up to join in on the madness. In one TikTok video, the pair can be seen sharing a little bit too much information about their respective stomach problems. And in another, LaPenna uses a novel method to share his snack of choice: spitting them directly into Lewicki's mouth. 

Lewicki, who also graduated from Grand Valley State University on the same Cinematography and Video Production course as LaPenna, has also gushed about her other half on her own TikTok account. "Once upon a time, a Kayla met a Frank," she captioned one montage, adding, "Just a little appreciation for my best friend." When LaPenna asked in the comments if they were getting married, Lewicki responded, "Most likely."

Lewicki's online presence hasn't yet reached the same heights as LaPenna's — although her over 10,000 TikTok followers are nothing to be sniffed at — but she has enjoyed success elsewhere. "We are honored," she captioned a 2021 Instagram post after the Grand Rapids company she worked for, Ozone Films, was recognized at a local film festival. "There is SO MUCH TALENT in West Michigan!! Once again, cheers to future greatness!" Sadly, things appear to have gone awry, as on his Facebook page, LaPenna lists himself as single.

His content wasn't initially monetized

Having racked up hundreds of millions of views in his first year as a social media sensation, you might expect that Frankie LaPenna instantly had a bank account balance of dreams. But as he told a surprised 98 Rock Baltimore, he barely earned a cent. Indeed, LaPenna revealed that he didn't monetize his content, claiming that he was more invested in simply making funny clips than any profits. But now that he's pursuing a full-time career as a content creator, he planned to change all that.

"There is a lot more monetary value in these TikToks, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and my time is much more valuable spent making them," the Grand Rapids native said. "I have a fantastic portfolio and videos that are extremely, extremely high performing videos. This past month across my YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, I've done over 300 million views." This approach has certainly paid off. Thanks also to the various brand deals he has accrued since, LaPenna's net worth has reportedly risen to around an estimated $500,000.

Frankie LaPenna has little app loyalty

It's fair to say that Frankie LaPenna won't be leading any protests if plans to ban TikTok in the United States ever come to fruition. The videographer may have racked up more than 8.6 million followers and 266 million likes on the platform. But he's more than happy to focus his efforts on other corners of the internet should the worst happen.

When asked about the bill that was making its way through Congress by Wood TV, LaPenna replied, "To be honest, I'm not concerned at all. I have over a million followers on Instagram and right around three million followers on YouTube. So, if they did shut down TikTok, I still have a large following elsewhere."

Should these platforms ever run into the same problems, then the Grand Rapids native will just head for their replacements: "If there is a new app that comes along, great, awesome, I'm all about it. I don't care which app it is, I just want to keep creating videos." LaPenna did express concern about the data collecting habits of such apps, however, he also acknowledged that there's little he can do. So expect to see plenty of big booty antics for the foreseeable future.

He sold his fake butt for $15,000

Just like Nicki Minaj, Andrew Garfield, and, of course, his biggest inspiration, Kim Kardashian, Frankie LaPenna has been accused of using an implant or two when it comes to his most voluptuous body part: his derrière.

The TikToker has never really confirmed once and for all whether he has resorted to outside help or is simply shaking what his momma gave him. But he did once tease that it could be the former during an Instagram video to publicize a mold of his famous butt being auctioned off. "If I were the lucky buyer, here, I mean, I would wear this dump truck around town and make viral videos with it, myself," he said with tongue placed firmly in cheek.

So what did such a monumental piece of modern pop culture eventually fetch? Well, during a bidding war, which involved no fewer than 36 individuals, the fake butt eventually went for over $15,000. That may seem like an astonishing figure, but LaPenna himself wasn't too surprised. "That is a world-famous dump truck," he told "The FilmUp Podcast." "Like, that thing's literally been seen by billions."

Frankie LaPenna hopes Kim Kardashian has seen his work

It's not exactly a huge shock to learn that Frankie LaPenna based his big booty antics on the owner of arguably the world's most famous derrière. After all, his voluptuous alter-ego is named Jim Kardashian and he appears to spend much of his time recreating the famous Paper magazine pose that nearly broke the internet. But you might not be aware that the TikToker also hopes to work with the most high-profile member of the Kardashian family.

During his chat with "The FilmUp Podcast," LaPenna admitted that he can't recall how the character — who's often surrounded by a security team dubbed the "booty guards" — came into being. But he does know that a certain Kim Kardashian was a major influence on his career.

"I'm like the lost Kardashian, Jim ... I'm like a disowned brother, disowned, just walking around, caked up," LaPenna remarked before revealing that he hopes the reality TV star is aware and appreciative of his homage. "I lay awake at night, wondering if she has seen, like, one or two of the videos." Having already worked with the likes of John Cena and Jason Derulo, don't be surprised if LaPenna ends up rubbing shoulders with his ideal collaborator in the near future.

He called out YouTube for unfair payments

In 2023, Frankie LaPenna posted a TikTok in which he discussed a topic many social media creators are often reluctant to address — exactly how much money they make from their content. The candid videographer revealed that for one YouTube clip that was watched for a combined 1.8 million hours (205 years), he was paid $13,000. Not bad, you might think. But that stands at just $0.03 per 1,000 views.

The YouTube Short in question was one that had surpassed 500 million views, titled "Olympic trampoline pool party," and was the first that LaPenna ever to reach such a lofty figure. "Now that's terrible, that's as bad as it gets," he remarked about the relatively paltry sum.

LaPenne questioned his viewers, "What do you guys think? Is this fair," in the video caption. He also queried in the video itself, "The real question we should be asking, is how much did YouTube themselves pocket for the video? I guess we'll never know."