Finland’s representative for Eurovision 2023, Käärijä, finished second amid major chaos and outrage among fans as Sweden’s Loreen took home the coveted prize. Fans across nations took to social media to show their support to the Finn who missed out on the trophy with his catchy song “Cha Cha Cha”
Who is Käärijä?
The 29-year-old popstar born as Jere Pöyhönen grew up in Vantaa near Helsinki and would go on to begin making music in 2014. Before joining the music label Monsp Records in 2017, Käärijä released his first single in 2016 as well as a number of other singles on his own. In 2018, he then published an expanded drama with the name Peliä. Then, in 2020, his lone studio album, Fantastista, was released.
He spent several years playing hockey as well. Intriguingly, he was also a semi-professional gambler. “The first song I released in Finland told the story of my gambling,” he said.
Käärijä, which roughly translates as “moneymaker” in Finnish, can be seen as a reference to his background as a gambler. The word “kääriä,” which means to wrap, is also referenced. As a result, the name plays on the notion that Käärijä is a rapper while simultaneously conjuring up the image of someone wrapping themselves in cash.
According to the singer, his green bolero statement sleeves, which have become a crucial part of his personality, have earned him the moniker “Kaalimato,” which is Finnish for “cabbage worm.” “Yeah, Kaalimato. It’s a sex metaphor! We have [an adult] store called Kaalimato in Finland. They have some crazy things there,” he told the BBC.
Käärijä is not married and has no kids. His long-term relationship with his ex-girlfriend ended during the Covid-19 outbreak, he once admitted in an episode of the podcast Urheilucast. He has not yet disclosed whether or not he is currently in a new relationship.
Käärijä finishing second at Eurovision 2023 received 526 points, with Israel finishing third in the competition with 362 points.