"I think it was just genuinely because we were growing a hundred thousand followers every eight hours," Prayag Mishra tells PEOPLE
A TikToker says he was briefly banned from the popular video-sharing platform because he was gaining at such a fast clip.
Canadian Prayag Mishra rose to fame on the platform after the Internet dubbed him part of the “sassy man apocalypse," with fans (known as “Pookie bears”) using his signature sounds and copying his signature dance moves on the app. His follower count went from just shy of 30,000 to over 1.7 million in the span of almost two weeks — and that number just keeps on growing.
However, there was a momentary scare that got both Mishra, 25, and his Pookie bears very nervous. After filming a video for PEOPLE's TikTok account in his car, Mishra — who had 3.1 million followers at the time — got the message no creator wants to receive.
"As I saved it onto my phone...I got the notification that I had been banned," he tells PEOPLE. "It was super, super nerve-wracking."
For Mishra, the most surreal moment after that discovery was driving to a Staples store to get a pen and paper so he could write down and provide documentation for TikTok to restore his account. While inside the store, somebody recognized him.
“Here I am banned on TikTok, but someone's taking a picture with me,” Mishra says. “It just felt like I was in a sitcom."
The scare even prompted Mishra’s devoted fans to not only make videos of “bring Pookie back,” but to create a Change.org petition calling for TikTok to reinstate his account.
“My Pookie bear, Prayag, has been unfairly banned from TikTok,” read the petition’s description. "His account was a source of joy and entertainment for many. It was not just an app to him, but a platform where he could express himself freely and connect with his followers.”
Fortunately, it all worked out in the end and Mishra was reinstated with TikTok just 25 hours later.
He says he later learned that the ban was imposed because his following on the app was growing so fast. "I think it was just genuinely because we were growing a hundred thousand followers every eight hours," he says.
TikTok did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
As it turned out, he found out the good news about his account while he was at the gym — from his mom!
Ironically, he says the temporary ban also earned him more fans on TikTok. “The moment we came back, I gained 600,000 followers within the span of several hours," he says. "So that was surreal.”
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However, Mishra tells PEOPLE that he didn’t immediately post on TikTok after he was reinstated because he wanted to absorb what had happened to him.
“I wanted to process it first. It's like you only miss the light when it's burning low. You only know you love her when you let her go. And I just wanted to process how much this actually means to me," the TikToker explains. "I always say I love the Pookies. I never knew how much they loved me back. So to see that response just made me so emotional and I just had to sit with it for a day to just really accept that they really like me. That was a really hard thing for me to accept for some reason. But that was a love I've never felt before.”
“To see people doing a whole analysis of what's going on and saying 'end of an era' – it was just very, very surreal for me, but so emotional to see my Instagram in the span of a few hours went up by a hundred thousand," he adds. "The comments saying, 'We need you back on TikTok,' was absolutely surreal."
He further appreciated the love showered upon him from the Pookies – nearly 4 million as of Thursday afternoon – after the experience, which has made him more driven.
“I didn't realize how deep our love was until I got banned,” he says. “I am now more motivated than ever you were going to get all of me… And I promise you this is only the beginning."
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Read the original article on People.