Impersonating the late legend Kobe Bryant, the livestreamer made a lot of money

An influencer in China earned 80,000 yuan ($12,000) in just 10 days thanks to his resemblance to basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

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“When Ma smiles, I can see my idol Kobe and miss him so much,” the fan said. Photo: Douyin .

The number of followers on Douyin of Ma Jinghui (21 years old, residing in Yunnan province, China) has increased from a few thousand to 600,000 in just a few days. All because he so successfully imitated the late sports star.

In the video, Ma wears Bryant’s iconic number 24 jersey, holds a basketball in one hand and sits against the wall. Accompanying the clip is the background music of the song See You Again. He also greeted fans in English, saying: “Hey, I’m back.”

Ma Jinghui calls himself “Chinese version of Kobe Bryant”. Thanks to that, he attracts more than 100,000 viewers for each live stream. In just over 10 days, he earned more than $12,000 by pretending to be Bryant on livestream.

Kobe Bryant is considered one of the greatest basketball players. He was also one of China’s most popular athletes with nearly 10 million followers on Weibo.

Kobe emerged as an 18-year-old rookie and played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, making the All-Star team 18 times, winning 5 NBA championships. However, the basketball legend died at the age of 41 with his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash near California in January 2020.

A 20-year fan of Kobe Bryant explained why the livestreamer impersonating the male athlete is so popular. “When Ma smiles, I can see my idol Kobe and miss him very much,” this person said.

“Just seeing him sitting there moved me to tears,” another person commented.

Initially, Ma Jinghui specialized in livestreaming gaming sessions. His hobbies are playing basketball and video games, of which Bryant is Ma’s favorite basketball idol.

In February, a netizen noticed he looked like Bryant and suggested he pretend to be the basketball legend to attract more followers.

Following the advice, Ma shaved his head, applied makeup to darken his skin, wore the number 24 shirt and started livestreaming with a basketball in his hand. Ma said he was “very surprised” by his popularity.

“I hope to earn more money, buy a car for my dad and buy my sister a new phone. Now I’m learning English to appreciate Kobe Bryant more,” the livestream added. Sharing with SCMP, Ma Jinghui said his goal is to reach 1 million followers and promised to live stream basketball matches in the future.

However, imitating the legendary Kobe Bryant, he also faced a lot of criticism online. “His arms and legs are skinny, he doesn’t look like a basketball player. He is just making money from people’s love for Kobe,” said a Douyin user.

In response, Ma said he has started exercising and is building muscle. “As long as there is love and perseverance, regardless of background or wealth, anyone can play basketball. That’s what Kobe taught us,” a Ma fan countered.

Invisible traps on social networks

The book Digital Universe by Professor Kim Sang Kyun deeply analyzes and thoroughly dissects the impacts of smart devices, virtual worlds and social networks in modern life.

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