$Eric: Reaching 370k in 15 seconds

Vanderbilt senior Eric Kim’s rise to TikTok stardom


@moneysigneric is a Vanderbilt senior who found his fame on popular video streaming platform TikTok, and has now garnered over 370 thousand followers. Photo courtesy @moneysigneric

Hana Batt and Abby Burke

In the United States, searching for your “15 minutes of fame” is something that has driven pop culture for decades. But today, social media platforms like TikTok make it popular to achieve that stardom in less than a minute. All it took was a 15-second video of senior Eric Kim eating Hattie B’s chicken for him to make his mark on TikTok and skyrocket his comedic presence.  

Since joining the platform in October, he’s gained 368 thousand followers under the username @moneysigneric. He always enjoyed making short, funny videos, which he used to post mainly on his Instagram. Soon, his friends staged an intervention, encouraging him to take his content to a platform that was perfect for his hobby: TikTok. 

Kim compares his “videostyle” to vlogging, a popular YouTube phenomenon. On the app, however, he achieves these daily videos in shorter segments that stay under 30 seconds.

“I piece together little snippets of everyday life here, and don’t take it too seriously,” Kim said. “There may be a segment in the video that someone doesn’t like, but there also might be a part that they do think is funny further along in the video, so I don’t overthink it.”

Due to his recent online fame, Kim has started to gain recognition around campus. He recalls encountering a first-year who recognized him from the app that wanted to take a picture of him. 

“I got super uncomfortable… it was really uncomfortable at first. I never intended for this level of attention,” he said. 

One of Kim’s TikToks, featuring him chugging water, garnered almost 2 million views. Photo courtesy @moneysigneric

Another component of his fame that Kim never expected were the people that made up his fanbase. After making a joke about Spanish slang in one of his earlier TikToks, viewers began to refer to Kim as the “Latino king,” and now the Latinx community makes up a large fraction of his fans. 

“I would say my past twenty thousand followers have all probably been Latina or Latino,” Kim said. 

Kim views TikTok as something fun to do with his friends, not as a future career path. His mom specifically supports his TikToks, but at the end of the day, his friends are his largest contributors to his content. 

“I am not a solo creator,” Kim said. “All my friends are heavily involved in making my videos. They pitch me ideas and jokes constantly, so everyone who is featured in a TikTok has something to do with the making of it, too.” 

In stressful times of the year, like during midterms and finals, Kim is usually the most active on his social media. He says that having a good time with his friends making the videos helps to distract from the boredom that can arise while studying. 

At the end of the day, @moneysigneric is just a normal Vanderbilt senior pursuing a degree in Economics, who likes to go to the gym, play Smash Bros on his Nintendo Switch and watch TV with friends. To him, the short videos are an example of how comedy doesn’t have to be a complicated algorithm, and sometimes the simplest things can be enough to entertain an entire social community.