Youtuber and Cristiano Ronaldo enthusiast IShowSpeed unveiled his new lavish $10 million home last week.
“What’s good, YouTube, everyone. I finally bought myself a house here in my hometown, you know what I mean,” said the 18-year-old said before leading a tour through the mansion.
Speed, born Darren Watkins Jr., showed off a pair of large dressing rooms, a gigantic bed, an even bigger bath – behind which was a luxurious walk-in shower – and that was just his bedroom.
The Ohio native has gone from complete obscurity to international celebrity in just over two years thanks to his bombastic style in streams watched by millions.
And his obsession with former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Ronaldo has made him a social media star – pocketing millions in the process.
IShowSpeed received an invitation to the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris last month
IShowSpeed showed off its new lavish home in a nearly five-hour livestream last week
The 18-year-old claimed the purchase of the property, located in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, cost $10 million.
Speed uploaded his very first Youtuber video in 2017, a minute and a half long clip of him performing dribbling moves in NBA 2K 2018. The video contained no commentary and was a far cry from what would become his content.
These types of videos soon gave way to Fortnite streams, allowing him to hone his unique personality.
Then, after amassing an impressive following on the platform, the youngster launched into an intense plea for then Man United striker Ronaldo.
Speed’s content grew rapidly as he vigorously championed the Portuguese striker’s GOAT case, ridiculed his old rival Lionel Messi and showed up at sporting events around the world as he made it his mission to meet his hero.
During the Sideman charity match in September 2022, the rising social media star scored a goal – which was ruled out – and proceeded to replicate Ronaldo’s famous ‘siu’ celebration.
He adopted the Red Devils as his Premier League team and even joined Geoff Shreeves and the Sky Sports sideline squad during the side’s match against Fulham at Craven Cottage in November 2022.
Speed had planned to meet the star in west London that evening and was characteristically over-the-top in his dejected reaction to the news that Ronaldo was not in attendance. Shreeves chuckled to himself in the corner.
During this period, the American established himself as the world’s biggest Ronaldo fan, at least the prominent one, and he leveraged his newfound fame in livestreams that attracted more and more viewers.
IShowSpeed attended the 2022 match between Manchester United and Fulham, hoping to meet his idol
The YouTube star live streamed how he got a tattoo of the Portuguese icon’s face
Your browser does not support iframes.
In one of his most famous videos, he responds to Messi’s highlights during his peak years at Barcelona. The youngster looked conflicted and seemed to take into account his mockery of the Argentine great as he witnessed his brilliance.
“No, I’m tripping, fuck this n****. Ronaldo better! Ronaldo better.’ he roared after quickly regaining his senses.
Much of his content surrounding the 38-year-old takes a similar tone and in reality it is almost impossible to conclude whether his dedication is an act or a ploy to attract more viewers.
Although in reality it doesn’t matter. Speed mainly posts highlights of his streams on his channel Live Speedy, which has amassed 7.53 million subscribers. Its main channel, IShowSpeed, has 21.7 million.
Over the past year, his Ronaldo content has ranged from videos titled “IShowSpeed Reacts to Ronaldo Shouting Him Out” to “IShowSpeed Gets a Ronaldo Tattoo.” And yes, he actually got the attacker’s face inked on his left arm, with the entire process streamed live to adoring fans.
His sheer dedication eventually got him noticed by a host of football stars, who themselves were heavily invested in internet celebrity and viral social media content. One of his most consequential connections, in regards to his quest to meet Ronaldo, came with his connection with AC Milan striker Rafael Leao.
The Portugal international first appeared in an IShowSpeed video late last year when Leao confirmed that his illustrious teammate knew him well during a FaceTime call with the teenager.
“You know, sometimes, like during training, I come up to him and I say ‘Sewey’ and he says the same thing,” Leao told an ecstatic Speed, who had released a song aptly called Ronaldo. [Sewey].
At that point, Speed had made several unsuccessful attempts to meet Ronaldo, including visiting Old Trafford from the US twice and going to Qatar for the World Cup.
Speed got confirmation from Ronaldo’s Portuguese teammate Rafael Leao that the striker was well aware of who he was
He finally managed to meet the Al-Nassr striker during Portugal’s match against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Estadio da Luz in June
But Leao would prove crucial in mediating a meeting between the pair a few months later.
In Portugal’s 3-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina in June, Speed finally met his idol in the Estadio da Luz car park and made sure not to waste a synchronized ‘siu’ opportunity with the football icon.
The six-minute video of the interaction was viewed a whopping 16 million times on YouTube. In total, according to financial channel Money Made, Speed earns around $2.2 million (£1.8 million) annually from his output on the platform alone.
Not to mention his huge following on other social media websites, including Snapchat and TikTok, where his main account has 23.1 million followers.
That popularity has been fueled by his association with Ronaldo and last week’s property reveal proved the lucrative rewards that his clever social media positioning has brought.
In addition to the amenities he showed off at the start of his mansion tour, Speed also gave viewers a look at his beautiful front room, a wine cellar he mistook for a cave, and a home gym.
The walkaround ended with a trip outside to his huge pool, where he performed a backflip to end the video.
Unfortunately, open access comes with danger. On Monday, while in the middle of a stream, Speed was interrupted by a SWAT team conducting a burglary of his property.
Speed has become one of the most recognizable faces on the internet in recent years
He wasn’t shy about putting his new surroundings on full display as he gave viewers an insight into his new home
The youngster was in characteristically animated form as he led the tour, including his enormous bathroom and home gym
The dangerous online practice known as swatting normally sees nefarious viewers falsely contact emergency services claiming a crime is taking place at the location of celebrity livestreaming.
It wasn’t the first time Speed fell victim to the stunt. He said on social media afterwards: ‘That’s f***ed up. Don’t ever do that again in your life, buddy. I really could have died. I had guns in my face. Don’t ever do that again.’
Still just 18 years old and with the kind of influence that saw him rub shoulders with football’s elite during last month’s Ballon d’Or, Speed is likely to be a prominent face on social media for years to come.
But with Ronaldo leaving the main stage, will a rebrand of Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe prove as financially successful? Speed could quickly show off a $50 million complex built as a quasi-temple to the Norwegian.
Whatever he does next, his meteoric rise, aided by his commitment to Ronaldo, has been surprising to watch.