How wit, charm and hard work shot YouTuber MrBeast to global fame

  • People
  • Monday, 11 Mar 2024

Donaldson's channel has more than 220 million subscribers, giving him more influence than many established television channels. Photo: Nina Prommer/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

The online world may seem pretty dark with hate, fake news and violent videos – but then there is Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast.

With more than 220 million subscribers, more than any other individual YouTuber, MrBeast is the king of online influence.

Only in his mid-20s, MrBeast seems to have unlimited reach and stands out for building an empire based on wit, positive vibes and millions in giveaways.

What secrets can the world's most famous YouTuber share with aspiring influencers?

Digging through MrBeast's videos is like following a child into a sweet shop.

Donaldson brings to life everything you always wanted to do or know, like "MrBeast on the largest and most expensive yacht in the world", which makes for engaging viewing.

No matter the topic, he is always relaxed, playful and surrounded by buddies.

These days MrBeast spends more than US$1mil (RM4.7mil) on each video he makes, earning the money from YouTube, advertising and sponsorship contracts.

He usually makes a new video around every week which is roughly between 10 and 30 minutes long.

TV broadcasters spend around the same time on a full-length television show.

And MrBeast's budget has almost no limits. He has bought a deserted island to let his subscribers spend 24 hours on it.

In other shows, he has invited his friends on a yacht worth a billion dollars or re-enacted a survival competition from the Netflix series Squid Game, a fictional show about cash-strapped contestants who accept to play a series of games that turn out to be deadly.

His spending has earned him the moniker "Willy Wonka of the Internet" – which is also because he rebuilt a replica of the chocolate factory and let some of his viewers eat it.

Donaldson is repeatedly referred to as a philanthropist, as he often gives away tens of thousands of dollars episode after episode. He pays for young people to go to university and has dozens of wells built in Africa.

His rise to stardom began in his childhood bedroom a decade ago.

Back in Greenville, North Carolina, he began uploading videos of himself playing computer games. Six years ago, he finally gained a degree of fame through a video in which he counted from 1 to 100,000 in 40 hours.

His reach expanded steadily from then on – from a modest bedroom setup to a sprawling network of offices and warehouses, MrBeast said recently.

Today, each video is a glossy production that is the envy of any television show.

MrBeast's success lies in knowing his audience, with catchy headlines that hook viewers in from the start and promise excitement with every click.

His work also stands out from the many online rivals. It is always clear right from the outset what the video is about.

Donaldson always starts his videos in the same way, with the simplest possible summary of the episode, such as, "We've just landed in Antarctica and we're gonna survive the next 50 hours here".

The main factor is the content. MrBeast and his team have a flair for finding fun topics and engaging people's emotions.

But it's often the curiosity that keeps people watching. The Youtuber caters to the hedonistic interests of many affluent young people around the world.

After all, MrBeast can make almost anything possible, from elaborate stage sets to accessing places that are usually off-limits – all at a level of quality that seems closer to Hollywood than television.

But above all, it is the protagonists who appeal: Jimmy Donaldson and his friends whom he has hired as sidekicks thanks to his growing success. They feature alongside him in almost every episode.

The group's secret is that they are credible, nice, chaotic and funny. In an era marked by deep societal divisions, they somehow manage to playfully bridge political divides.

MrBeast intends to keep growing and said recently that he could one day throw billions around in his videos. At just 25, Forbes says he earns US$82mil (RM388mil) a year.

He's not a billionaire yet, but he already has several products, such as chocolate bars and burgers, which he is poised to expand into a business empire.

One thing should be clear: MrBeast is not likely to run out of ideas, money or subscribers any time soon. – dpa

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