TikTok plea saves local small business, owner makes 12.6 million people laugh online

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST
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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) – It’s all laughs on Jeremy Littel’s side of TikTok. In his two years on the app, Littel has built up a following of 12.6 million people between his two separate comedy accounts: @littel_johnny and @jeremy_littel.

“My main goal is to make that person smile,” Littel said.

Social media wasn’t ever something Littel planned on pursuing long term, as he also owns a small business, Kickass Beef Jerky, headquartered in Winona.

After a year into his TikTok endeavors, he wasn’t sure if he would continue. That is when he realized the impact his videos had on people. As his following grew, he received messages from followers that told him his jokes helped them with PSTD, pandemic related depression and even suicidal thoughts.

“There was one message that got to me,” Littel said. “A person that said they were going to watch five videos that day, and at the fifth video, they were going to end their life. They watched my video and it made them laugh so hard. It made them realize that life is worth living. And from then on out, that’s my purpose.”

It’s exactly that reason, Littel keeps sharing to his now combined 12.6 million followers. Little did he know, his followers would save him right back.

“March, April was terrible for any type of food businesses out there,” Littel said.

In the height of the pandemic, Littel’s small beef jerky business headquartered in Winona, took a blow.

“We took a huge hit,” he said. “I don’t know if I am going to have to lay people off. I don’t know what I am going to do.”

Littel took to his online platform for help. At the time, he had just one million followers, but the orders poured in.

“Within three days, we had like 2,000 orders,” he said. “...I remember I was in the HyVee parking lot around 5 o’clock the next day, and I was just bawling. I cannot believe the people of TikTok came together for us.”

The success hasn’t stopped there. Monday afternoon, Littel was busy packaging nearly 250 orders that came in from a promo the day before.

“We’ve grown probably five fold since that happened,” Littel said. “...I’m just making videos. Making people laugh. It’s not just an app. It’s like family.”

In his two separate accounts, @littel_johnny involves his three children and includes family friendly humor. His next account, @jeremy_littel, is more of a personal account, with adult gags.

While Littel could very well make a living off of social media, monetary value isn’t the goal. It’s more about the smiles.

“I don’t know what my timeline is,” he said. “I’m just going to run with this as long as I can. I’m just doing this for the time being, having fun with it and growing at the pace I’m allowed to.”

Littel says despite his huge following, life for him and his family stays pretty normal. Sometimes though, he’ll get recognized and get asked for photos -- or even a hug. Littel is also on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.

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