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MrBeast takes on the challenge of being YouTube’s first billionaire

Illustration by Kate Walker

MrBeast takes on the challenge of being YouTube’s first billionaire


The Future. Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast on YouTube) controls a sprawling empire both online and offline — an empire that could soon become a unicorn. Starting as a normal kid who crafted a unique money-giveaway YouTube business model (to rack up views that earned him even more money), Donaldson’s induction into the billionaire club could be a watershed moment for the creator economy.

Give to receive
MrBeast — the most-followed YouTube in the world with 112 million subscribers — could break a billion.

  • According to Forbes, Donaldson earned $54 million last year, including $32 million from ads on his videos and $9 million from sponsored content.
  • Forbes predicts that his earnings may hit $110 million and estimates that he’s worth at least $500 million.
  • Donaldson also does the majority of his work out of a sprawling studio in North Carolina, which he fully owns. He hopes to sell a 10% stake for $150 million.

That deal would value the studio at $1.5 billion, with Donald’s 90% stake worth $1.4 billion. There you have it, a billionaire.

Return on influence
While Donaldson could coast on his immense YouTube fame, he’s working hard to branch out into offline businesses… and they’re already paying off.

  • His MrBeast Burger brand launched in December 2020. It posted $70 million in sales last year and may hit $100 million in 2022. Donaldson has a minority stake in the brand.
  • But he’s expanding quickly — after a wildly successful brick-and-mortar launch in New Jersey, he’s planning to open at least a dozen more locations next year.
  • His Feastables chocolate bar brand sold 4 million units in three months after launching in January (it’s available online and in 4,700 Walmarts). He owns 80% of the company.
  • Donaldson plans on expanding into protein bars and frozen food.

And with Donaldson co-founding an investment firm, Night Capital, to inject money into the businesses of other creators, it doesn’t look like his influence is going to stop anytime soon.

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