Meet the 22-year-old YouTube star MrBeast, who's famous for giving away millions of dollars too strangers
- MrBeast is one of the most-viewed YouTubers thanks to his attention-grabbing stunts.
- On Tuesday, he went on Clubhouse to give away $10,000 to a random stranger.
- Here’s how the 22-year-old YouTuber got his start in online video.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
At just 22 years old, Jimmy Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, is one of the most-viewed and highest-paid creators on YouTube.
He’s known for such stunts as reading every word in the dictionary, turning a backyard into a ballpit, buying everything in a store, and giving away a million dollars but only giving people one minute to spend it. His ambitious challenges and money-giveaways have helped him grow his channel to roughly 53 million subscribers.
On Wednesday night, Donaldson popped into Clubhouse, an audio-only app for listening to people’s conversations.
The “room” instantly hit capacity at 5,000 users, and at one point, Donaldson himself dropped out of the conversation because of technical issues and was unable to rejoin. Sriram Krishnan, a venture capitalist and co-host of a nightly Clubhouse program called “The Good Time Show,” said his appearance was “stress-testing” the company’s servers.
“Turns out @MrBeastYT is a tiny bit popular and might have melted down Clubhouse’s servers,” Krishnan tweeted.
Clubhouse employees “worked furiously” to get Donaldson back into the room, he said, and eventually, it worked.
Later in the episode, Donaldson scrolled slowly through the list of users listening in and picked a random stranger to win $10,000. The winner was an associate at a venture capital firm based in Chicago.
Now, meet the man behind MrBeast.
MrBeast was born as Jimmy Donaldson on May 7, 1998.
The YouTube star and his brother, CJ, grew up in eastern North Carolina in the city of Greenville. In 2016, he graduated from Greenville Christian Academy, a private high school in the area.
Source: Business North Carolina
Donaldson uploaded his first YouTube in February 2012, when he was just 13 years old.
The teenager began his YouTube career posting videos under the username “MrBeast6000.” For the first few years, Donaldson attempted, unsuccessfully, to master the YouTube algorithm by creating the content he thought would attract the largest audience.
Source: Newsweek, Casey Neistat on YouTube
As MrBeast attempted to game YouTube's algorithm, the aspiring YouTuber went through stages of trends on his channel: funny compilations of highlights in playing "Minecraft" and "Call of Duty," estimating YouTubers' wealth, offering tips and tricks to aspiring creators, and commentating on YouTuber drama. MrBeast himself made very few appearances in his videos in the early days.
MrBeast started to gain a following in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his "worst intros" series of videos, which rounded up and poked fun at YouTuber introductions he discovered on the platform. By mid-2016, MrBeast hit 30,000 subscribers.
Source: MrBeast on YouTube
In late 2016, MrBeast enrolled in college, although the details of his higher education are hard to come by. The YouTuber said he lasted only two weeks in college before he dropped out, telling his mom: "I'd rather be poor than do anything beside YouTube." His mom made him move out of his childhood home North Carolina at 18 because, "she loves me and just wanted me to be successful," MrBeast later said.
Source: MrBeast on Twitter
MrBeast first went viral in January 2017, when he uploaded a video showing himself counting to 100,000 — which he later revealed took him 44 hours. "I just really wanted it," MrBeast later said about the challenge. "I had dropped out of college, I wasn't really making much. I knew it would go viral."
Source: Casey Neistat on YouTube
After that first video went viral, MrBeast found what the YouTube algorithm liked. He quickly amassed more views with similar stunts, like spinning a fidget spinner for 24 hours and watching Jake Paul's "It's Everyday Bro" music video for 10 hours straight. By November 2017, MrBeast reached 1 million subscribers.
Source: MrBeast on Twitter
Now, MrBeast has a few types of videos that serve as his bread-and-butter on his channel.
He still puts on exhausting, hours-long stunts — which have been referred to as “junklord YouTube” — as well as last-person-to-leave challenges in which he gives out thousands of dollars. These videos’ titles range from “Going Through the Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times” to “Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge.”
Source: The Verge
MrBeast also puts on attention-grabbing donation and charity stunts.
He once opened up a car dealership where he gave out cars for free, and is known to dole out thousands of dollars to small streamers on Twitch and YouTube, as well as to waitresses and Uber drivers in person.
As Donaldson has grown his channel, he was able to hire four of his childhood friends — Chris, Chandler, Garret, and Jake — to work for him and his YouTube channel.
The group often makes cameos in some of MrBeast’s wildest last-person-to-leave challenges, and each one has become an iconic name in the MrBeast empire.
By December 2018, MrBeast had given out $1 million through his outlandish stunts, earning him the title of "YouTube's biggest philanthropist."
MrBeast is a product of his own viral content: He’s only able to give out these thousands of dollars thanks to six-figure brand deals to fund in-video ads.
Source: MrBeast on YouTube
MrBeast has been credited with helping to launch a new style of expensive stunt videos on YouTube in which creators pull off elaborate challenges and large-scale sponsored giveaways.
Source: The Verge
However, MrBeast's success hasn't come without controversy.
In 2018, The Atlantic unearthed a series of old, since-deleted tweets from MrBeast in which he uses homophobic slurs and the idea of being gay as a punchline for jokes. At the time of the article, his Twitter bio read: “just because I’m gai doesn’t mean I’m gay.” MrBeast defended himself as “not offensive in the slightest bit in anything I do.”
Source: The Atlantic
MrBeast has also been accused of giving away fake money after critics found that bills used in a November 2019 video were not of legal tender.
MrBeast later said he gave out fake bills to mitigate the risk of a dangerous rush of people clamoring over free money, and claimed he later exchanged the fake bills with real checks for people in the video.
Over the years, MrBeast has revealed a few details about his life.
The 22-year-old has shared that he has Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In June 2019, MrBeast first shared on Instagram he was dating Maddy Spidell. “i don’t want mr beast for his money, just want a bf with good taste in anime who can make me laugh,” Spidell wrote on Twitter the month before.
We are simple people. We see a new pewdiepie video, we watch it.
A post shared byMrBeast (@mrbeast) on Jun 16, 2019 at 12:17pm PDT
Source: Maddy Spidell on Twitter
In late 2018, MrBeast harnessed his notoriety for elaborate stunts to throw his support behind PewDiePie, the popular YouTuber who was locked in a battle for the spot as the most-subscribed-to YouTube channel (a title he's since lost to T-Series).
In true form, MrBeast pulled out all the stops: he recorded a 12-hour video saying “PewDiePie” 100,000 times, and turned up at the Super Bowl in “Sub 2 PewDiePie” shirts.
Source: Business Insider
In late 2019, MrBeast launched — and successfully completed — a fundraising campaign called #TeamTrees to plant 20 million trees by the end of the year.
The campaign gathered the support of more than 600 influencers and received donations from tech execs like Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star and PewDiePie.
Source: Business Insider, Team Trees
MrBeast was one of the most-viewed creators on all of YouTube in 2020.
He’s accrued more than 10 million views on every video he’s uploaded in the past two years, displaying just how successful he is at going viral. YouTube put him as the top creator of 2020, beating out other viral sensations like Dream and James Charles. His net worth isn’t publicly available, but he’s said that most of his $1 million donations are funded by brand deals.
Source: Business Insider, MrBeast on Twitter, The Verge
2020 was a big year for MrBeast, with two of the largest collaborations that he's ever attempted on his channel.
Streamed in April 2020, Donaldson gathered 32 of the world’s biggest influencers to take part in a Rock/Paper/Scissors competition for $250,000. That stream was watched 38 million times in under a year but he wasn’t content with just one event. In October of that year, he put on a $300,000 influencer trivia tournament that was won by the D’Amelio family. Mild controversy broke out after some online accused the family of cheating by having multiple people take part in the contest.
Source: YouTube, Insider
In December 2020, MrBeast opened up a restaurant that would pay people to eat at it. Weeks later, he launched his own MrBeast Burger franchise in dozens of cities.
Donaldson opened up over 300 delivery-only locations across the United States, allowing fans the chance to order a MrBeast burger from an app or UberEats.
In 2021, MrBeast has continued uploading outlandish and expensive videos.
Donaldson’s most recent 2021 videos have him buying all the items in five stores and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive food.
In February 2021, Donaldson made a guest appearance on the Clubhouse app causing it to crash.
Donaldson spoke on the app about how to succeed on YouTube, which brought in a massive influx of new downloads and users for the app, causing it to crash.
Now in 2021, MrBeast has surpassed 53 million YouTube subscribers. He also revealed that he strives for perfection with his videos — to the extent he already scrapped at least three videos in 2020 that he spent $100,000 on producing.
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