American YouTube star MrBeast has overtaken his Swedish competitor PewDiePie as the most-subscribed-to individual on the video-sharing platform. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, now has 112 million subscribers. PewDiePie has 111 million.
Known for giving away huge cash prizes, Donaldson's popular “philanthropy as entertainment” videos and stunts range from the bizarre to the brilliant. They include everything from sitting in slime for 24 hours and being buried alive for 50 hours, to giving away 10,000 free frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving and “tipping” a pizza deliveryman a fully furnished, mortgage-free house.
He became the highest-paid YouTube star in January, pulling in a cool $54 million in earnings last year, more than any YouTuber ever, according to Forbes magazine.
Donaldson, who also runs YouTube channels MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts and Beast Philanthropy, has also launched MrBeast Burger, an app-based meal-ordering service, and an interactive games company.
Last year, he sparked controversy after he spent more than $3.5 million recreating every challenge from the hit Netflix show Squid Game. Offering up a cash prize of $456,000, Donaldson invited 456 participants to compete in some of the show's deadly games, including Red Light/Green Light, Marbles, and the Glass Bridge.
While contestants had dye packs attached to their tracksuits that exploded, stimulating the effects of a gunshot and staining their clothes if they were eliminated, critics accused Donaldson of missing the point of the show, which was to highlight the level of personal debt among people in South Korea.
Despite their apparent rivalry, Donaldson and PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, are actually friends, and have collaborated on charitable projects in the past.
In 2019, during a very public competition between Kjellberg and the Indian music and production company T-Series, on which channel would be the first to reach 100 million subscribers, Donaldson made videos supporting Kjellberg and bought radio advertisements and hoardings urging people to subscribe to him.
T-Series, which had the backing of Bollywood stars, won the race in the end. The company is still the biggest YouTube channel overall, with more than 229 million subscribers.
Neither Donaldson nor Kjellberg have addressed the latest milestone, although Kjellberg did say Donaldson would "definitely" overtake him.
"I can't wait for it to be over," Kjellberg said in one of his videos. "He definitely deserves it. I hope he does it."