If you were asked to nominate a single figure for the title ‘King of Instagram’ a few years ago, you’d likely need very little time to think about it. Across the internet, this title was almost always considered to belong to just one man – Dan Bilzerian.
Having first established himself on the platform in 2012, Dan Bilzerian’s bucket list lifestyle quickly earned him a following of millions. His Instagram followed a formula that’s almost guaranteed to capture the attention of the masses – incredible destinations, beautiful women and the trademark signs of a lavish lifestyle (the yachts, the cars, the houses) and one picture-perfect man with millions to spend on all of it.
However, this is Instagram. In the online space of the young, rich and beautiful, not everything is always as it seems – and when one internet kingpin’s empire comes crumbling down, a line of potential successors are always waiting in the wings to take his place.
The Rise Of Dan Bilzerian
Dan Bilzerian has made no secret of the fact that his upbringing was anything other than typical.
The son of an ex-Wall Street tycoon, Dan and his brother Adam were blindsided in their youth when their father Paul was indicted and charged with a slew of financial crimes, resulting in the disgraced magnate being sent to prison. His rocky home life meant that Dan grew to be something of a troubled teenager, quickly losing any interest he previously had in traditional schooling and ultimately, he has previously stated, being expelled from education for being caught with firearms in the boot of his car.
Seeking a clean slate, he enrolled himself in Military School, though he was once again faced with a challenge after suffering two stress fractures during his time there – ultimately leading to a young Bilzerian being honourably discharged before he’d really even started to serve his military duties. It was yet another setback for a man who was just about tired of them.
Deciding instead to go back into education and attend college, he began spending more time with his brother, who had recently gotten into the game of poker with his own peers – and soon, Dan was hooked, too. Taking to the sport like a duck to water, he began turning hundreds of dollars into hundreds of thousands whilst playing, flipping $750 stakes into winnings of over $180k. This, he decided, was the way he’d make his fortune.
In the years following, Dan would go on to earn millions from poker, making his name as one of the world’s finest poker players. This, it seems, was the beginning of Dan’s rise to notoriety.
Having established himself on Instagram in 2012, a time when the platform was still very much in its infancy, Dan’s lavish lifestyle and unapologetic displays of hedonism attracted the attention of millions. Having built a reputation over the following years as the man who had it all, he decided to build a bona-fide brand with himself at the helm – he soon launched IGNITE, a ‘premium lifestyle brand for the discerning individual’ providing the highest-quality CBD products and luxury sportswear apparel.
Dan took IGNITE public in 2019. Given his vast following, the Instagram entrepreneur confidently listed each share at $2.5million – but investments never materialised. Having found himself unable to sell a single share in the company, the stock price plummeted to 54 cents a share.
It was the beginning of a PR nightmare for the reigning King of Instagram.
The Fall Of Dan Bilzerian
Following this highly-publicised failure, Dan was suddenly under a microscope, as business experts across the world came forward to ask ‘Where did it all go wrong?’. In the end, perhaps Dan’s downfall was brought on by the very thing that put him at the top in the first place – how many experienced investors could have been expected to gamble such a heavy bet on a man who made his money in poker?
The investment disaster meant a huge financial loss for IGNITE, but it was the only beginning of Dan’s problems.
With the media’s eyes on Dan Bilzerian, questions were asked regarding just how much of the life he portrayed via his Instagram page was reflected in reality – and the answers were surprising.
In the months following, it was revealed that the lavish $65 million dollar LA mega-mansion he had purchased didn’t truly belong to him at all – and his business setbacks had left him months behind on the rent.
Then came the revelation that his business had been operating illegally from the start. As a convicted felon, Dan’s father was barred from all business trading – yet he’d been at the helm of IGNITE all along. With these revelations, the trust that Dan’s vast following had in the entrepreneur began to crumble.
Fortunately for Dan, this didn’t dent his Instagram numbers too heavily, with many staying on board to maintain their insight into the unprecedented fall of the so-called King of Instagram – a title that, despite his 32.5 million strong following, many felt that he no longer held.
Who Are The New Playboy Kings Of Instagram?
With the peak of Dan’s fame and notoriety now seemingly behind him, who are the Instagram kingpins set to take his place?
Based on numbers alone, the undisputed king of the platform is footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has more followers than any other user on Instagram. With 334 million pairs of internet eyes on Ronaldo, he’s a staple on Instagram feeds across the world and a regular in the headlines offline – and, having recently transferred from his former club Juventus back to Manchester United following a €23 million deal, interest in Ronaldo is set to soar even further.
There’s also Jake Paul, the YouTube star and professional boxer who, despite flirting with controversy throughout his career, remains one of the world’s most talked about personalities. With a following of almost 17 million, Paul’s regular updates of his jet set lifestyle, incredible Calabasas mansion, supercar collection and supermodel girlfriend Julia Rose hint to a young man that has already achieved what millions can only dream of and it looks as though he’s no plans on slowing down. Like Dan, he’s also had his fair share of scandals to deal with throughout the years, with many surprised that he’s always made it to the other side with his fanbase intact – a trend which doesn’t appear to be about to change.
Then there’s filmmaker Bobby Misner, a close member of the DDW family. A self-proclaimed lover of fast cars, beautiful women and exotic destinations, Bobby has amassed a loyal following of fans over the years, each enthralled by his lavish jetset lifestyle. With projects in the works and so much more to share, his influence is only set to grow – it’s no surprise that so many want to be there to see it.