Fans know MrBeast as Junklord YouTube's pioneer — creating content revolving around crazy stunts and insane amounts of a single item. And If you've been around YouTube, chances are you stumbled across one of his wacky stunts. Maybe it was him testing if 100,000 pieces of paper could stop a bullet. Or him buying an entire island and importing 5,000 pounds of sand to recreate a beach. Whichever video, they all have one thing in common.
His audience loves him.
MrBeast has over 54 million subscribers. He won the 2019 Vlogger of the Year Shorty awards and the YouTuber of the Year award in 2020.
His nearly decade-long YouTube career has exploded since his first video in 2012. Keep reading to learn how he grew his massive YouTube empire and started impressive side projects, including a tree-planting foundation and a burger chain.
Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, was born on May 7, 1998, in Kansas. He attended high school at Greenville Christian Academy and graduated in 2016.
He attended college briefly but quickly dropped out. "3 years ago I dropped out of college and my mom made me move out (because she loves me and just wanted me to be successful) and people thought I was crazy," Donaldson tweeted.
In 2012, Donaldson created the YouTube channel MrBeast6000. He was only 13 years old when he uploaded his first video — him commentating while playing Minecraft. MrBeast Minecraft and other video game content kickstarted his YouTube channel.
In 2016 and 2017, Donaldson started exploring video topics outside video gaming. He uploaded videos commenting on various trends, such as:
Donaldson's YouTube channel started gaining traction. By 2016, Donaldson had 30,000 subscribers — impressive after four years of uploading.
Donaldson filmed himself counting to 10,000. We're serious. After 44 hours of counting, he ended with the video with, "What am I doing with my life?"
"I just really wanted it," Donaldson told Casey Neisat. "I had dropped out of college and I wasn't really making much. But I knew it would go viral."
And this was the video that catapulted Donaldson to YouTube stardom. Seeing how much engagement this video had, he followed up with a video counting to 200,000. Donaldson's channel subscriber base grew to one million in November 2017.
Donaldson's viral counting video positioned him for lucrative brand deals. This was when his channel started taking on a philanthropic angle. (But really, it's Donaldson handing out exorbitant amounts of cash to random people).
Donaldson's first brand deal was with Quidd, a marketplace for buying and selling digital collectibles. Just five months after he uploaded his counting video, Quidd reached out to Donaldson. Anybody else would have uploaded a video and pocketed the $10,000.
Instead, he filmed a video of him giving away the entire $10,000 to a homeless person. Just like his counting video, this act of charity exploded in views.
Quidd then did another $10,000 deal with Donaldson. This time, he gave a few thousand to multiple people. The third Quidd deal, Donaldson donated it to random Twitch streamers. Another time, he gave his pizza delivery driver a $10,000 tip.
One of the most heartwarming moments was when Donaldson gave his mother $100,000 (not entirely funded by Quidd).
His charitable — borderline shocking — videos made Donaldson a YouTube icon.
Counting to 100,000 was only the start of Donaldson's YouTube stunt streak. Donaldson began uploading videos doing crazier things. Just give these titles a read:
Anthony Padilla, the co-founder of the popular YouTube channel Smosh, calls this type of content "Junklord Youtube." Essentially, junklord YouTubers would create content revolving around supersized quantities.
"There's no doubt that watching someone waste a whole bunch of money doing something ridiculous with a whole bunch of things is fascinating," Padilla explained on this channel. "They're so clickable because no one in their right mind would ever waste so much money doing these things unless they had an audience."
You could say that MrBeast was the pioneer of Junklord YouTube.
MrBeast's YouTube presence has grown to span multiple channels. Each channel has its own focus and helps supplement income (his main channel videos can be costly to finance!).
MrBeast is a millionaire. We know this answer is vague, but no sources have offered a more precise figure.
One source estimates Donaldson's net worth at $8 million. Another doubles that figure to $16 million. Forbes did report that Donaldson generated $24 million in earnings in 2020. (Not as much as Ryan Kaji, a child YouTuber that reviews toys, but still impressive!)
MrBeast's money streams are many. He gains revenue from multiple sources. This includes his YouTube channel, ad revenue, and brand deals. Donaldson also sells merchandise on his website and recently launched MrBeast, his burger chain business.
AdSense is a common revenue source with YouTubers that sport massive followings. The higher the video videos, the higher the CPM (clicks per thousand) rate. And with Donaldson's views getting an average of 11 thousand views per day, according to Naibuzz, this brings in reliable passive income.
Brand deals and sponsorships are lucrative (and coveted) opportunities for big YouTubers. Remember: Donaldson's very first opportunity was a $10,000 brand deal. Quidd then threw more money his way at least three more times.
It's little surprise why.
Donaldson's channel has a massive following, tons of engagement, and his video ideas attract eyeballs.
Donaldson sells his own branded merchandise through his online store. A quick browse through his products, and you'll find t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories.
Virtual restaurants are becoming a new trend in the restaurant industry. Essentially, you can launch your own restaurant but use an existing restaurant's labor and equipment. In return, that restaurant gets a cut of the profits.
It's also how Donaldson launched a burger chain, partnering with over 300 restaurants and kitchens. These locations include Brio Italian Grille and Buca di Beppo. He gives them the recipe, and they make it for him. BeastBurger currently features five different burgers — most of them named after his friends.
Through his Quidd sponsorships, Donaldson has given away over $100,000 to… Well, who hasn't he given money to?
In October 2019, Donaldson partnered with fellow YouTuber Mark Rober to launch #TeamTrees. The foundation's goal was to raise $20 million in three months to support the Arbor Day Foundation. Also, #TeamTrees would plant one tree for every dollar raised.
The foundation quickly raised the money they needed. Contributions included donations from Elon Musk, Jeffree Star, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
#TeamTrees uploaded a video celebrating their one-year anniversary video on October 25, 2020. Since its launch, #TeamTrees has planted 7.1 million trees across six continents. This includes combating deforestation in Kenya and restoring mangrove trees in Mozambique. In California — recently devastated by forest fires — #TeamTrees helped prime these acres for new growth.
# TeamTree's next goal is to plant 14 million trees in 2021.
Donaldson recently started Beast Philanthropy. This new YouTube channel will donate all proceeds to charitable causes, including his own food bank.
"I'm dying to start up the new channel where 100% of all ad rev, merch, and brand deals will go towards running the food bank! I want to see how big we can grow this," Donaldson tweeted.
According to Donaldson, the food bank is progressing well. He has "worked out all the legal stuff" and is securing a food bank warehouse.
Reading the story behind Donaldson's success story, you might be in awe. We certainly were. He has come a long way since his first video in 2012.
But how did he do it?
Here are some secrets we can glean from Donaldson's massive success.
Ever since he was 12 years old, Donaldson was doing more than just uploading a video. Yes, his early stages may have gained little traction, but he was constantly learning. Donaldson' wanted to understand the YouTube algorithm and use it to his advantage.
"I woke up, I studied YouTube, I studied videos, I studied filmmaking, I went to bed, and that was my life," Donaldson said in an interview with Bloomberg.
He and his friends gave each other homework assignments. They would study successful YouTubers and even reach out to them for data behind their most successful videos.
All while publishing regularly.
MrBeast filmed a video in 2015 and scheduled it to publish in five years. In that video, he shared his goal of having one million subscribers in five years. The video's publish date was October 4, 2020.
We can safely say that Donaldson knocked that goal out of the park — thanks to consistency and commitment.
Chris Tyson was one of the first people to help Donaldson with his channel. He would shoot footage while going to school and working part-time. When Tyson graduated from college, Donaldson recruited him.
"I had just finished college, and I started a job where I interned for a year to get a position," said Tyson, Donaldson's childhood friend, in an interview with Business Insider. "Jimmy was like, 'Hey, I know you worked really hard for that job, but can you quit it and just come work for me?"
(We imagine Donaldson pays a lot more, too!)
Today, the MrBeast team has grown to 30 people. Donaldson now employs video editors, writers, video shooters, and more to help grow his channel.
Because success often comes with more work. Video editing requires tons of hours, for example. By offloading some of his business's administrative and technical tasks, Donaldson can focus on what he does best—testing his crazy ideas and filming them.
While Donaldson is undoubtedly making money — lots of it — keep in mind his video costs. "Some of our videos can cost an upwards of $60,000 to film," said Tyson. That price tag has since grown.
In recent years, his average cost of making a single video has climbed to $300,000 from $10,000. "Money is a vehicle to do bigger videos and make better content," Donaldson said.
Donaldson is continuously investing back into his channel. He's always giving back to his subscribers. As a result, Donaldson creates higher quality videos, builds subscriber loyalty, and grows his brand.
Various sources report MrBeast's wealth between $8 million and $16 million. MrBeast's channel generated $24 million in earnings from 2020, according to Forbes.
MrBeast's real name is Jimmy Donaldson.
The richest YouTube is Ryan Kaji, a 9-year-old who creates videos reviewing toys (with the help of mom and dad). Kaji's YouTube channel has 12.2 billion views and 41.7 million subscribers. The child YouTuber earned $29.5 million in 2020, according to Forbes' list of 2020's highest-paid YouTubers. MrBeast ranks second on that list.
Donaldson has grown a massively popular YouTube channel thanks to his ingenuity, philanthropic heart, and creativity. But we haven't seen the last (or craziest) of Donaldson.
Not only are we excited to see how his charity food bank works out. Donaldson also has dreams to own an e-gaming team and stage a basketball game in the stratosphere. Outerspace sports is exactly the type of video we'd see from Donaldson.
We're sure to see a lot more from MrBeast in the future.