21-year-old YouTuber MrBeast was one of the most-viewed YouTube creators in 2019 — check out how he got his start and found success with elaborate stunts and giveaways

Benjamin Okorie
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  • YouTube star MrBeast recently launched a campaign to raise $20 million to plant trees in honor of reaching 20 million subscribers on the video-sharing platform.
  • MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, was one of the most-viewed YouTubers in 2019, thanks to attention-grabbing stunts in which he often puts in hours of work and donates thousands of dollars.
  • MrBeast actually got his start on YouTube at age 13 with video-game walkthroughs, but it took him years before he started to gain notoriety and find content that viewers wanted to watch.
  • Here's how the 21-year-old YouTuber got his start in online video, and how he's able to give away millions of dollars to friends, unsuspecting streamers across the internet, and random strangers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

SEE ALSO: The summer of the 'VSCO girl' may be over, but retailers and the VSCO app itself are still reaping the benefits of the craze that swept Gen Z

MrBeast was one of the most-viewed creators on YouTube in 2019. With 27 million subscribers, it's hard to believe the YouTuber is only 21.

Source: Business Insider

MrBeast was born on May 7, 1998 as Jimmy Donaldson. He grew up in eastern North Carolina in the city of Greenville, and graduated from a private high school there in 2016.

Source: Business North Carolina

However, he was only 13 years old when he uploaded his first video to YouTube back in February 2012 under the username "MrBeast6000." For the first few years, MrBeast attempted, unsuccessfully, to master the YouTube algorithm by creating the content he thought would attract the biggest audience. "If it gets the most views, it's because people click on it and I want to give them what they want," MrBeast later said.

Source: Newsweek, Casey Neistat on YouTube

As MrBeast attempted to game YouTube's algorithm, the aspiring YouTuber went through stages of trends on his channel: funny compilations of highlights in playing "Minecraft" and "Call of Duty," estimating YouTubers' wealth, offering tips and tricks to aspiring creators, and commentating on YouTuber drama. MrBeast himself made very few appearances in his videos in the early days.

Source: Newsweek

MrBeast started to gain a following in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his "worst intros" series of videos, which rounded up and poked fun at YouTuber introductions he discovered on the platform. By mid-2016, MrBeast hit 30,000 subscribers.

Source: MrBeast on YouTube

In late 2016, MrBeast enrolled in college, although the details of his higher education are hard to come by. The YouTuber later said he lasted only two weeks in college before he dropped out, telling his mom: "I'd rather be poor than do anything beside YouTube." His mom made him move out of his North Carolina childhood at 18 "because she loves me and just wanted me to be successful," MrBeast wrote on Twitter in November 2019.

Source: MrBeast on Twitter

MrBeast first went viral in January 2017, when he uploaded a video showing himself counting to 100,000 — which he later revealed took him 44 hours. "I just really wanted it," MrBeast later said about the challenge. "I had dropped out of college, I wasn't really making much. I knew it would go viral."

Source: Casey Neistat on YouTube

After that first video went viral, MrBeast found what the YouTube algorithm liked. He quickly amassed more views with similar stunts like spinning a fidget spinner for 24 hours and watching Jake Paul's "It's Everyday Bro" music video for 10 hours straight. By November 2017, MrBeast reached 1 million subscribers.

Source: MrBeast on Twitter

MrBeast now has a few types of videos that serve as his bread-and-butter on his channel. He still puts on exhausting, hours-long stunts — which have been referred to as "junklord YouTube" — as well as last-person-to-leave challenges in which he gives out thousands of dollars. These videos' titles range from "Going Through the Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times" to "Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge."

Source: The Verge

MrBeast also puts on attention-grabbing donation and charity stunts. He once opened up a car dealership where he gave out cars for free, and is known to dole out thousands of dollars to small streamers on Twitch and YouTube, as well as to waitresses and Uber drivers in person.

As MrBeast has grown his channel, he was able to hire four of his childhood friends — Chris, Chandler, Garret, and Jake — to work for him and his YouTube channel. The group often makes cameos in some of MrBeast's wildest last-person-to-leave challenges, and have become iconic names in the MrBeast empire.

Source: Newsweek

By December 2018, MrBeast had given out $1 million through his outlandish stunts, earning him the title of "YouTube's biggest philanthropist." MrBeast is a product of his own viral content: He's only able to give out these thousands of dollars thanks to six-figure brand deals to fund in-video ads.

Source: MrBeast on YouTube

MrBeast has been credited with helping to launch a new style of expensive stunt videos on YouTube in which creators pull off elaborate challenges and large-scale sponsored giveaways.

Source: The Verge

However, MrBeast's success hasn't come without controversy. In 2018, The Atlantic unearthed a series of old, since-deleted tweets from MrBeast in which he uses homophobic slurs and the idea of being gay as a punchline for jokes. At the time of the article, his Twitter bio read: "just because I'm gai doesn't mean I'm gay." MrBeast defended himself as "not offensive in the slightest bit in anything I do."

Source: The Atlantic

MrBeast has also been accused of giving away fake money after critics found that bills used in a November 2019 video were not of legal tender. MrBeast later said to gave out fake bills to mitigate the risk of a dangerous rush of people clamoring over free money, and claimed he later exchanged the fake bills with real checks for people in the video.

Source: Dexerto

Over the years, MrBeast has revealed a few details about his life. The 21-year-old has shared that he has Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In June 2019, MrBeast first shared on Instagram he was dating Maddy Spidell. "i don't want mr beast for his money, just want a bf with good taste in anime who can make me laugh," Spidell wrote on Twitter the month before.

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Source: Maddy Spidell on Twitter

In late 2018, MrBeast harnessed his notoriety for elaborate stunts to throw his support behind PewDiePie, the popular YouTuber who was locked in a battle for the spot as the most-subscribed-to YouTube channel (a title he's since lost to T-Series). In true form, MrBeast pulled out all the stops: he recorded a 12-hour video saying "PewDiePie" 100,000 times, and turned up at the Super Bowl in "Sub 2 PewDiePie" shirts.

Source: Business Insider

In October, MrBeast launched a fundraising campaign called #TeamTrees to plant 20 million trees by the end of 2019. The campaign has gathered the support of more than 600 influencers, and has received nearly $18 million in donations from tech execs like Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star and PewDiePie.

Source: Business Insider

MrBeast was one of the most-viewed creators on all of YouTube in 2019. He's accrued more than 10 million views on every video he's uploaded in the last year, displaying just how successful he is at going viral. His net worth isn't publicly available, but outlets have estimated it stands around $4 million to $6 million, with millions more made that he gives away in his videos.

Source: Business Insider, MrBeast on Twitter, Tuko

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