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Who is Salt Bae and why was he celebrating with Argentina?

Turkish chef Salt Bae, real name Nusret Gökçe, has hit the headlines in the aftermath of Argentina’s dramatic Qatar 2022 World Cup final penalty shootout victory against France. “Why was he on the pitch?” and “Who is he?” are questions that we’re going to go into here and are the ones a few Argentina players – Lionel Messi included – also seemed to be asking themselves at the end of the greatest night of their lives.

Head over to Salt Bae’s Instagram channel – nusr_et – and you might stumble across a video of him and an incredibly bemused-looking Ángel Di María posing with the World Cup trophy (that one includes the most awkward thumbs up you’re likely to see) or Cristián Romero smiling and laughing politely as Gökçe snatches the trophy away from his young son. The chef also tried to get man-of-the-moment (that should probably be man-of-the-last 18 years) Lionel Messi’s attention, but he was having none of it.

Why was Salt Bae on the pitch celebrating with Argentina?

Gökçe received plenty of criticism for his ‘cringeworthy’ behaviour from commentators, who were also left wondering just how on earth he had managed to get on the pitch and why he was touching and kissing the trophy.

According to FIFA’s own rules, stated on their website, “As one of the most recognised sports symbols in the world and a priceless icon, the original FIFA World Cup™ Trophy can only be touched and held by a very select group of people, which includes former winners of the FIFA World Cup™ and heads of state.” Nobody is sure which of those two categories Salt Bae falls into…

It turns out, however, that the 39-year-old is a ‘friend’ of FIFA president of Gianni Infantino’s, with the pair seen chatting and embracing a few days before the final in Doha. It’s quite the bromance, I’m sure you’ll agree. Does that justify breaking the above rules? Infantino probably feels he can do what he likes.

Who is Salt Bae?

Salt Bae has been described as anything from a ‘chef’ to a ‘butcher’ to a ‘food entertainer’ to a ‘restaurateur’, who became famous in 2017 after a video which showed him preparing an Ottoman steak by flamboyantly sprinkling salt onto it went viral and led to more videos, countless memes, newfound fame and plenty of celebrity friends, which includes a whole host of soccer players.

Gökçe was forced to leave school at a young age due to his family being unable to pay for his education and worked as a butcher’s apprentice. He then went on to spent some time in Buenos Aires in his twenties, learning about Argentinian beef and butchery. Presumably, then, there’s where his affiliation with La Albiceleste comes from.

How many steakhouses does Salt Bae own?

He returned to Istanbul and opened his first steakhouse there in 2010, which was followed by others – including one in Doha – as his business grew. Within a year of his first viral video, he opened a further 13 steakhouses and now has 15 in total, including ones in New York, Miami and London.

What does Salt Bae mean?

There are two, connected trains of thought here. ‘Bae’ is colloquially used as a short form for ‘baby’ in certain parts of the English-speaking world (especially in the United States) although it also doubles up as an acronym which stands for ‘before anyone else’. That’s how much Gökçe loves his salt.

What is Salt Bae’s net worth?

As of 2021, his estimated net worth was valued at $60 million, he has almost 50 million followers on Instagram and he can count the likes of David Beckham and Leonardo DiCaprio (we have to assume Infantino too…) as clientele. Messi has previously been photographed with him but it seems as if there’s a time and a place for the Argentina captain.

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