YouTube star MrBeast criticised for $3.5 million real-life ‘Squid Game’

The social media star stirred up controversy after sharing the 25-minute-long video of 'Squid Game', in which 456 contestants battled it out to win $456,000

A prominent YouTube star has stirred up controversy after he spent more than $3.5 million recreating every game from the hit Netflix show Squid Game.

MrBeast, 23, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, announced on TikTok on October 11 that he would recreate the South Korean show in real life if the TikTok got 10 million likes. After it raced past 10 million – currently at 18 million – the multimillionaire set about recreating all the games from the show, in which debt-ridden Koreans play to the death for a chance to win 45.6 billion South Korean won ($38.6m) in prize money.

Contestants battled to win $456,000

Inviting 456 participants to play, and offering up a cash prize of $456,000, Donaldson, along with mobile gaming company Brawl Stars, recreated all the games, including Red Light/Green Light, Marbles, and the Glass Bridge.

Differing from the show, in which losing a game meant being killed, foam pits were placed beneath 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.

The YouTuber charted his progress on social media, writing on Twitter: "Squid Game has been filmed and now just needs editing, it is the craziest video we've ever filmed times 100!"

He also revealed the event cost $3.5m to organise, which included $2m for production and set-building, and $1.5m in prizes.

Courting controversy

The Kansas-born Donaldson has amassed a $25m fortune and boasts more than 76 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He is credited with pioneering a social media genre focused on creating expensive and headline-grabbing stunts that have in the past included giving away $1 million to whoever could carry it without dropping a single bill, and spending 50 hours in a maximum security prison.

His latest stunt stirred up controversy, with critics accusing Donaldson of missing the point of the show, which was to highlight the level of personal debt among people in South Korea.

“Household debt in South Korea has risen in recent years and is now equivalent to more than 100 per cent of GDP – a level not seen elsewhere in Asia,” reported The Guardian. “Indebtedness has gone hand in hand with a dramatically widening income gap, exacerbated by rising youth unemployment and property prices in big cities beyond the means of most ordinary workers.”

“Just flaunting some casual wealth disparity. In a mock recreation of a show about flaunting wealth disparity,” wrote Twitter user backflipsimmons.

Donaldson’s stunt follows model Chrissy Teigen's, who recently came under fire for hosting a Squid Game-themed party, in which she dressed up as the Red Light/Green Light doll, while her husband, Grammy-winner John Legend, wore an animal mask reminiscent of the wealthy spectators who watch the contestants play.

Updated: November 25th 2021, 11:56 AM