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If you’re over the age of 18, you might not have any idea who Jacob Sartorius is or what he does. But if you happen to live with teenagers, there’s a good chance you’ve been briefed on his social media drama.
The 15-year-old Sartorius is polarizing—teens seem to either love him or hate him or love to hate him—but there’s no denying his internet star power, made all the more high voltage by his courtship of Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown. (More on that below.)
Though he hasn’t exactly crossed over into mainstream success, the teen who began his online career on Vine, shot to stardom on Musical.ly, and landed two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 could eventually follow the path of other social media influencers-turned-megastars like Justin Bieber, Troye Sivan, Shawn Mendes, or Logan Paul.
Here are 10 facts about Jacob Sartorius, the Musical.ly kid who lip-synced his way into stardom. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
10 fascinating facts about Jacob Sartorius
1) He actually got his start on Vine
Sartorius got his start on the now-defunct Vine app. In one of his early major videos, Sartorius took a stand against bullying and discussed his own experiences with being bullied.
That Vine has more than 183,000 likes, 192,000 revines, and 8.4 million loops. Said Sartorius, via Seventeen: “It was just something that I faced when I went to school. I could tell that other people faced that, too. It’s just a common thing that’s upsetting to me.”
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2) He hit his stride and became famous on Musical.ly
He’s become one of the most-watched performers on Musical.ly, the app that’s geared toward teens and pre-teens and which features young performers lip-syncing to popular songs.
He said the social media app helped him find himself.
“Before Musical.ly, I wasn’t the most outgoing,” Sartorius said, via Billboard. “The app helped me goof off. It’s like no one is watching besides the camera.”
3) Sartorius saw Musical.ly as a means to an end
He told the Chicago Tribune in January 2017 that he didn’t set out to become a Musical.ly star. He had another purpose in mind. “It was more like I want to use Musical.ly to help promote what I’m doing as an artist,” Sartorius said. “Musical.ly was a great platform.”
This social media-centric approach to fame isn’t a surprise given that other young heartthrobs-turned-superstars like Shawn Mendes began playing covers and posting goofy videos on YouTube and Vine, respectively.
4) He’s adopted
In August 2016, Sartorius posted a YouTube video in which he explained that he had been adopted. He grew up in Virginia, but he said he actually had been born in Oklahoma.
“At the time, my birth parents weren’t able to take care of me, so they made a plan for me to be adopted,” he explained. “Luckily for me, I was blessed to be able to be adopted by two of the most loving parents in the world—my mom and my dad.” Sartorius said he had the “best childhood anybody could ask for,” and the reason he made a YouTube video about it was because “I think it will make us all closer and allow you to get to know me better.”
5) He’s been hailed as the next Justin Bieber
Business Insider wrote in 2016 that Sartorius could become the next big pop star. The website tells the story of a Musical.ly executive who said Sartorius was supposed to appear at VidCon on the exhibition floor to meet fans. But apparently, the screams of his fans were so loud that VidCon canceled that meet-and-greet and had him perform on the main stage later that day.
“We walked Jacob out of the arena—there was a glass door next to it—and you saw all these teenagers running, hammering on the glass door, screaming Jacob’s name,” the executive said. “He’s become a huge celebrity.”
6) Two of his songs have been minor pop hits
A pair of his tunes has ranked on the Billboard Hot 100.
His first release, “Sweatshirt,” peaked at No. 90 in July 2016—and actually made it to the top-10 in iTunes—and a month later, “Hit or Miss” rose to No. 72. Not exactly Bieber-like, but not too bad either.
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7) He’s buddies with one of YouTube’s biggest stars
In early 2016, Sartorius and YouTube star Ricegum went back and forth with YouTube diss tracks and other insults. Now, apparently, they’re friends and even put together this Freaky Friday parody.
8) He dated big-time Netflix star Millie Bobby Brown
It was a journey: The two announced they were together on Dec. 31, 2017, when she posted a picture of the couple from Disney World, where the two were vacationing with Brown’s family.
But as noted by gossip star Perez Hilton, Brown apparently deleted everything Sartorius-related from her Instagram account in April 2018 after he was accused of asking someone else for nude photos.
A Twitter user named @rafaruls claimed one of her friends met Sartorius in London, and later that night, he messaged her and asked for nudes. When the friend said no, @rafaruls said Sartorius ended their conversation. It’s worth noting the @rafaruls Twitter account has been deleted.
todo empezó cuando @/rafaruls publicó estos tweets. traducción; " jacob sartorious estaba en londres hoy, vió a mi amiga y le pidió que le mensajeara esa noche. cuando ella lo hizo él empezó a pedirle nudes, y le dijo que le hablaría todos los días como paga. >>> pic.twitter.com/njhU5tVZuj— madmax (@astrowolfhard) April 12, 2018
A few days after that, though, Brown posted this photo of her and Sartorius on Instagram without a caption, leading fans to believe the couple was still together.
By May 2018, Brown dropped a Twitter hint that the relationship was through for good.
Tears dry on their own pic.twitter.com/HqE1x3pgxw— Millie Bobby Brown (@milliebbrown) May 11, 2018
It’s unclear if the original @rafaruls tweet was real or fake, but Sartorius, seemingly through no fault of his own, has dealt with this before.
9) Somebody apparently has impersonated him on Facebook
As BuzzFeed reported, a screenshot claiming to be from a Sartorius Facebook account asked a different young girl for nude photos.
A Sartorius representative told BuzzFeed that those screenshots were from a fake Facebook account and that when that screenshot was taken, Sartorius didn’t even have a Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.