MrBeast becomes highest-paid YouTube star

The viral stunts creator is estimated to have earned $54 million in 2021

YouTuber and philanthropist Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, at a turkey giveaway in Greenville, North Carolina, in November 2021. Photo: Beast Philanthropy Productions via AP
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YouTube creator MrBeast pulled in a cool $54 million in earnings last year, more than any YouTuber ever, according to Forbes magazine.

MrBeast, 23, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, has more than 88 million subscribers on YouTube and is popular for videos that feature money giveaways, charitable initiatives and awe-inspiring stunts. A recent viral video featured a set-by-set re-enactment of the games from Netflix hit Squid Game and awarded the winner a $456,000 prize.

The American internet personality’s popular videos and stunts range from the bizarre to the brilliant, and include 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 delivery boy a fully furnished, mortgage-free house.

Using “philanthropy as entertainment” is a key theme in his videos. For his charity initiative #TeamSeas, Donaldson teamed up with fellow YouTuber Mark Rober to raise $30m to clean up trash from the world’s water bodies.

In 2021, Donaldson won the YouTube Steamy Awards Creator of the Year for the second year in a row. His videos have garnered 10 billion views and he has more than 150 million subscribers on his combined YouTube channels, which include MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts and Beast Philanthropy.

The social media star has also launched MrBeast Burger, an app-based meal-ordering service, and an interactive games company.

Posting his first YouTube video at the age of 13, his early content focused on video game playthroughs and, somewhat ironically, videos that estimated the wealth of popular YouTubers. His first viral video in 2017 only came after he had spent five years on the platform, and showed him counting to 100,000, a task that took him more than 40 hours to complete.

Here are the top 10 highest-paid YouTube stars of 2021, as per the Forbes ranking:

1. MrBeast – $54 million

2. Jake Paul – $45 million

3. Markiplier – $38 million

4. Rhett & Link – $30 million

5. Unspeakable – $28.5 million

6. Like Nastya – $28 million

7. Ryan Kaji (Ryan’s World) – $27 million

8. Dude Perfect – $20 million

9. Logan Paul – $18 million

10. Preston – $16 million

Updated: January 15, 2022, 11:35 AM