Dan Bilzerian, a controversial American social media celebrity of Armenian descent, officially became an Armenian citizen on Monday during his first-ever visit to his ancestral homeland.
Bilzerian is a professional poker player who is primarily known for his playboy lifestyle. He has tens of millions of followers on Instagram and Facebook who are attracted by his regular photos of private jets, scantily clad women, piles of cash and guns.
The 37-year-old nicknamed the “King of Instagram” gave no details of his trip to Armenia when he announced it on Twitter shortly before arriving in Yerevan early on Sunday night. Accompanied by several companions, he declined to answer questions from journalists at the city’s Zvartnots airport.
Mnatsakan Bichakhchian, the head of an Armenian police department on visas and passports, announced the following morning that Bilzerian and his brother Adam have taken an Armenian citizenship oath. Bichakhchian posted on his Facebook page a photograph of himself and the two men standing in his office.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Bichakhchian revealed that the brothers were granted Armenian citizenship in 2014 but had to take the oath in order to complete their naturalization process. The official suggested that they were strongly influenced by their ethnic Armenian father Paul Bilzerian who he said already holds an Armenian passport.
Dan Bilzerian, who endorsed Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, for example, he was briefly arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of possessing bomb-making materials.
Bilzerian is the latest Armenian American celebrity to travel to Armenia. Kim Kardashian, the world-famous reality TV star, visited the country in April 2015.
Unlike Kardashian, Bilzerian has rarely made public statements on issues relevant to Armenia or the sizable Armenian community in the United States.