Nov 19, 2020 - Culture

LaMelo Ball and his 5.7M followers on Instagram is a big deal for Charlotte

Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images, courtesy of the Hornets

With 5.7 million followers on Instagram, LaMelo Ball, newly drafted by the Hornets, will soon be one of the biggest influencers in Charlotte. Second only to DaBaby.

Why it matters: Depending on how Ball, a 6-foot-7 point guard, uses his influence, he could elevate the city’s tourism, help small businesses, and amplify local issues. For example, Charlotte rapper DaBaby, who has a whopping 15 million followers, used his platform to get out the vote with free Lyft rides and surprise appearances on Election Day.

But even Ball living here is a big deal. “Charlotte is getting cooler, and this is just a proof point,” says Corri Smith, owner of the marketing firm Black Wednesday and a local expert on social media.

How did he get so famous? I first heard of the Ball family on Saturday Night Live. Kenan Thompson played the eccentric LaVar Ball in a reoccurring bit talking about his relationship with Hornets owner Michael Jordan and with his three sons: Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo, who now all play in the NBA.

  • LaMelo, 19, is the youngest of the three. When he was just 16, he signed with a professional basketball team in Lithuania. That made headlines.
  • He then skipped college basketball and signed with the Los Angeles Ballers within the Junior Basketball Association, a league his father started. Since then, he played professionally in Australia, and that brings us up to present day.
  • Talent paired with LaVar: The Ball brothers are uber talented, all currently drafted in NBA. But their climb to fame also has a lot to do with their father’s personality and his outlandish comments, including the time he said he could beat Michael Jordan. (LaMelo said on Wednesday it’s a “straight blessing” to play for Jordan.)

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A post shared by LaMelo Ball (@melo)

Who are Charlotte’s other big names on the ‘gram?

LaMelo has more Instagram followers than every pro and semi-pro sports team in Charlotte combined. Here’s my un-scientific ranking of the other biggest accounts in Charlotte, all of which dwarf the Agenda’s 231,000 followers.

(1) DaBaby, rapper – 15M

(2) LaMelo Ball, Hornets point guard – 5.7M

(3) Olivia Culpo, model – 4.7M

(4) Steven Furtick, Elevation Church pastor – 3.1M

(5, tie) Panthers – 1.7M

(5, tie) Nick Kosir, meteorologist with dance moves – 1.7M

[Related Agenda guide: How to spend the weekend in Charlotte with FOX 46 meteorologist Nick Kosir]

(7) Christian McCaffrey, Panthers running back and dating Olivia Culpo – 1.4M

(8) Hornets – 1.3M

(9) Dale Earnhardt Jr., race car driver – 853K

(10) Emily Maynard Johnson, former Bachelorette – 654K

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