Noah Beck’s first TikTok post was a flop.
In January 2020, while home in Arizona during winter break from the University of Portland, his sister, Tatum, introduced him to TikTok. “She had, like, 8,000 followers, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot.’” Mr. Beck said. “I was the annoying little brother who was like, ‘I bet you in two weeks I’ll have more followers than you.’”
He posted two videos, including a nine-second one in which he lip-synced vulgar rap lyrics from a Megan Thee Stallion song. Shot in his bedroom with an iPhone, it had all the mundane markings of a suburban teenager’s life: white T-shirt, floppy hair, string lights, walls covered with photos and posters.
It went nowhere. But a few months later, when the pandemic shut down campus life everywhere, the video mysteriously took off. “When I woke up, I had 20,000 followers,” he said. “And each video had, like, 300,000 views. I thought it was a glitch.”
Today Mr. Beck, 21, has more than 34 million followers on TikTok, putting him a bit behind Kylie Jenner (49.1 million) and a girlfriend of two years, Dixie D’Amelio (57.5 million) — more on that later. He has gone from being an anonymous college student training to be professional soccer player to a TikTok superstar who, in recent months, sat in the front row at Paris Fashion Week, wore a white tuxedo to the Cannes premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick,” modeled for AMI Paris and played in a celebrity soccer match for UNICEF.