Is Ryan Garcia Really Instagram Famous?

Yes, but also no.

When Ryan Garcia fought Jayson Velez May 4, the ESPN crew would NOT SHUT UP about how many Instagram followers he has.

I’ve never been one to put much stock into that sort of thing, but it sparked my curiosity. Why were they talking about this kid’s social media presence? They don’t do that for anyone else.

The obvious reason is Golden Boy asked them to. It all felt like an infomercial of sorts. Follow Ryan Garcia on the ‘ol ‘Gram, where the cool kids are!

And the 800,000 follower number seemed exceedingly high for a (then) 14–0 fighter whose opponents were a combined 130–78–10. That’s a 59 percent win ratio, if you’re curious.

So how does a prospect get so popular on Instagram? He was never an Olympian, and was beating the typical bums and gatekeepers every young buck has to get past. There’s nothing terribly unique.

But maybe I was missing something. Maybe Ryan Garcia was just naturally popular because he’s active on Instagram, and good looking, and young, and talented.

Like his opponent’s records, numbers don’t lie. While he saw some naturally positive follower growth for over a year, his Instagram following suddenly spiked around August of 2017. In fact, his follower count more than doubled between 8–11–17 and 8–16–17, from 32,300 to 74,990.

So what happened in that five days that caused him to get so popular? BoxRec shows he was inactive during that period. His previous fight was a local Golden Boy show in Inglewood, California against the 28–21 Mario Antonio Macias on 7–15–17. His next fight was 9–15–17 against the 10–2 Miguel Corrizoza, which was a day ahead of Canelo-GGG, and held int he MGM Grand Ballroom.

Since then, his Instagram follower count has risen precipitously until a second spike on 3–21–18, around the time he faced a 32–13–3 Fernando Vargas (no, not THE Fernando Vargas) in Indio, California. Again, nothing special.

So what’s the takeaway? Ryan Garcia’s famed Instagram following is likely purchased. Such social media follower gains are not natural (Golden Boy fighters seem to love unnatural gains), and typically a result of purchased followers.

Can you really buy Instagram followers? And how much are they? Yes, and not expensive.

A simple search for ‘purchase Instagram followers’ returns several results. I went with for no other reason than it was high in the search results. It offers many packages, with 10,000 followers costing $59.99.

If we assume Ryan Garcia’s Instagram following was natural before 8–11–17 — and that he purchased his way to the 869,000 followers he now has — it’s cost Golden Boy around $4,800. That’s a whole lot of kitchen utensils.

A more likely scenario is that Golden Boy purchased followers for Ryan Garcia in two large clumps when his follower counts spiked so hard, and possibly smaller buys periodically. Once you buy followers, it can have a naturally positive effect, which may be why his count just kept climbing after the initial bump. Some sites that offer purchased followers will add them incrementally to avoid detection, so it’s hard to say which is the real scenario.

It’s also “possible” Ryan Garcia is just that popular on Instagram for no particular reason. Anything is possible, but THAT is nearly impossible. For a fighter to gain such a following so rapidly without being in the limelight is just not realistic. On 8–14–17, 8–15–17, and 8–16–7, his follower count rose just over 10,000 each day, which strongly suggests Golden Boy bought followers in addition to natural follower growth.

So, next time you hear ESPN or whomever drooling onto their microphones about how popular Ryan Garcia is on Instagram, you’ll know it’s probably rubbish.