March 4, 2024

Mr Donaldson declined to be interviewed. A representative of his declined to discuss working conditions in his companies, but commented on the videos with objectionable content: “When Jimmy was a teenager and first starting out, he carelessly used a gay arc more than once. Jimmy knows there is no excuse for homophobic rhetoric. “The representative added that Mr. Donaldson” has grown and matured into someone who doesn’t speak like that “.

Many younger creators said they wanted to emulate Mr. Donaldson’s entrepreneurial path.

“I think Mr. Beast inspires all of Generation Z,” said Josh Richards, 19, a Los Angeles TikTok inventor with nearly 25 million followers. “It gives a lot of kids a new way to teach these little kids how to be an entrepreneur, not just to get a lot of views or get famous.”

Like many Generation Z members, Mr. Donaldson, who grew up in Greenville, NC, started a YouTube channel in 2012 when he was in middle school.

To crack YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, he first went through various genres of video creation. He’s posted videos of himself playing games like Call of Duty, commenting on the YouTube drama, uploading funny video compilations, and responding to videos live on the Internet.

Then, in 2018, he mastered the format that would make him a star: stunt philanthropy. Mr Donaldson filmed himself giving away thousands of dollars in cash to random people, including his Uber driver or people suffering from homelessness, to capture their shock and joy in the process. The money originally came mainly from brand sponsorships.

It turned out to be a perfect viral recipe mixing money, a larger than life personality, and healthy responses. Millions started watching his YouTube videos. Mr. Donaldson soon renamed himself “YouTube’s Greatest Philanthropist”.

The combination was also lucrative. Though Mr Donaldson was giving away ever larger amounts – from $ 100,000 to $ 1 million – he made it all back and more with the advertising that ran alongside the videos. He also sold merchandise such as socks ($ 18), water bottles ($ 27), and t-shirts ($ 28).