Chief Obi claims he got $1M from a company called Vomoz. Pulse followed the paper trail and there still many questions left unanswered.
It's a movie about a sports agent Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. One of the reasons why the movie is popular is because of a classic quote "show me the money!"
This quote fits into the story of the popular Instagram comedian Chief Obi and his $1M endorsement by Vomoz.
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Chief Obi (Henry Obiefule) announced a new endorsement deal. In Nigeria's entertainment scene, an endorsement deal is no longer a big deal.
Chief Obi is not the first Instagram comedian to land an endorsement deal. Crazy Clown, Maraji and others have signed deals with brands and their stories didn't get too much attention in the press.
Chief Obi's deal is not your standard endorsement deal or so goes the claim by the comedian and Vomoz. On his Instagram page, Chief Obi flashes a wide grin and holds a ceremonial cheque of $1M in the Vomoz office. "Dream Big!!" was the caption of the photo which now boasts of 14,528 likes.
$1M is a lot of money, a whole lot. In Nigeria, $1M is N397M. It's not every day that a Nigerian comedian based in America signs a deal of this huge amount. As a matter of fact, it's not every day an America comedian signs a deal of this size.
So how did Chief Obi, who has just over 231,000 followers on Instagram and 17,000 followers on Twitter snag a $1m deal?
First of all Chief Obi, is a sensation in the Nigerian online community. His skits are popular within frequent Instagram users in Nigeria and Nigerians based in America.
Nigerian-American singer Jidenna featured Chief Obi's vocals on his debut album 'The Chief.' In his music video 'The Let Out', Chief Obi plays the role of Jidenna's father. Among the league of Nigerian comedians on Instagram Chief Obi is in the top tier no doubt.
There was a lot of doubt over Chief Obi's deal. On Twitter, many Nigerians openly questioned how real this deal was. Chief Obi is popular but his celebrity status should not command such a figure.
Pulse Gist reached out to Chief Obi to douse the fire of uncertainty over his deal. "We are aware of the controversy and mixed feelings about the deal. However, we have decided to turn deaf ears to the negative comments. It comes with the business" replied a rep for the comedian via e-mail.
There was the talk of an interview with Chief Obi but that never materialised. Chief Obi's camp failed to give a date for the interview.
The paper trail leads Pulse Gist to CNN. The reputable media outfit reported the Chief Obi deal on Thursday, March 23, 2017. Titled 'Nigerian Instagram comedian lands million dollar deal', CNN published the story without backing up the story with hard evidence to back up Chief Obi's claims.
Pulse Gist reached out to Flourish Chukwurah who wrote the CNN article. In her response, she referred us to her producer Stephanie Busari. An e-mail was sent to the producer but there was no reply at the time this article was published.
The third party in this story is Vomoz, which claims to be "one of the largest telecommunications retail service providers in the United States and Canada."
Vomoz was more forthcoming than Chief Obi and CNN.
"Chief Obi is a great entertainer and one of the most popular upcoming celebrities among immigrants in the United States! He has the strongest Internet sensation among the youths abroad!
"Yes - $1 million seems to be a lot of money in Africa but here in the United States, where most celebrities get $25m, $50m, $100m and $200m+ endorsement deals, $1m should be the least Vomoz Communications can offer to this great talent!" Alex Kunle Ayankoya an executive at the company tells Pulse Gist via e-mail.
Questions still pop up. There are no online records of Vomoz's revenues over the years to ascertain if it has the financial muscle to give a Nigeria comedian $1M.
For a company that boasts to be one of the largest telecommunications retail service providers in America and Canada, it is strange that its financial revenue cannot be gotten with a click online.
Yes, celebrities in America get $25m, $50m and $200m as endorsement deals but these type of deals are reserved usually for household names like Beyonce, Adele and Kevin Hart.
To put things in perspective, American online comedian King Bach who is regarded as the number one in the game is reportedly worth $2M. King Bach whose Vine views are estimated to be 6 billion has never signed an endorsement deal worth $1M.
We are back to square one. How does a Nigerian comedian in America get a deal worth $1M from a company that claims to be one of the biggest in its industries with no online financial proof to back it up?
Also importantly, why did a huge media organisation like CNN pick up the story without any proof whatsoever?
This is where the paper trail ends...with no sight of dollars or cents but with question marks and doubts. A million dollars should have no hiding place. Two things are involved, it's either all the parties are hiding the money or they are hiding the truth. Show us the money!