The Real Truth Of MrBeast

Just years ago, Jimmy Donaldson was one of thousands of aspiring content creators trying to gain viewers on YouTube. Dubbing himself MrBeast, he was still in his early 20s when he began to carve out his niche, eventually becoming the most successful YouTube personality in the history of the platform. 

That's no exaggeration. Back in 2022, Forbes reported that the South Carolina-based YouTuber — then just 24 years old — had the highest subscriber numbers on YouTube at that time, with 112 million, and was already the biggest-earning content creator on any social media platform. By 2024, he more than doubled his subscriber numbers, exceeding 250 million, with those videos estimated to rake in up to $700 million in revenue each year.

Assuming he manages to maintain the level of success he has established — and there's no evidence that he won't — MrBeast is predicted to become the first-ever YouTube billionaire. "If we manage to stay the largest YouTube channel in the world for the next five to 10 years, the opportunities are limitless," he explained. But behind his massive YouTube productions and the multi-million dollar empire, do people know who MrBeast truly is? To find out more about this singular social media sensation, read on to discover the untold truth of MrBeast.

MrBeast posted his first YouTube video at 13

MrBeast's YouTube journey began when he started posting videos at age 13. The very first video he shared, in fact, remains on his YouTube channel, featuring his play-by-play commentary as he plays the video game, "Minecraft." At that time, in February 2012, he also created his YouTube channel, MrBeast 6000 (eventually renamed to remove the digits). Subsequent videos from this period included many more involving "Minecraft," although he eventually branched out into Pokemon battles and other video games, such as "Call of Duty."

According to his mother, Susan Parisher, MrBeast had originally shown talent in baseball until being diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition characterized by intestinal inflammation. The disease made playing sports more difficult than it had been, and his inability to keep up led him to refocus his interests from sports to making videos. "It was very hard," Parisher said in an interview with Time. "But we can look back now and we can realize it opened the door for the YouTube."

After graduating from high school, he enrolled in community college. However, he admitted that he didn't attend a whole lot of classes, preferring to spend his time creating content for YouTube in hopes of breaking through on the platform.

MrBeast went viral by literally counting to 100,000

MrBeast had been uploading videos on YouTube for several years before finally making a breakthrough with one particular video. In the 2017 upload, he took on the challenge of counting aloud every single number from one to 100,000; As he noted, the original video was more than 40 hours long, which meant he had to edit it down to under 24 hours, the maximum video length for YouTube. This quickly went viral, putting MrBeast on the map. Since first being uploaded, that video has been viewed a staggering 30 million times.

As his mother told Time, it took him weeks to edit the video to a short-enough length that he would be able to upload it. "I just really wanted it," MrBeast said of his desire to break through on YouTube, during an interview with fellow YouTuber Casey Neistat. "I dropped out of college, I wasn't really making much ... I knew it would go viral."

From there, he began delving into the platform's algorithm, quickly determining that one of the most important factors in garnering high viewership numbers was to create an attention-grabbing thumbnail image that would encourage people to watch. Another key strategy was to ensure that he explained, within the video's first 10 seconds, what viewers were about to see. Since then, he has never deviated from that format.

He was taken to task for his homophobic posts

By 2018, MrBeast's star was continuing to rise. As his videos attracted millions of viewers, he was raking in millions of dollars. Controversy erupted after the publication of a 2018 expose in The Atlantic, which took a deep dive into his social media and emerged with some disturbing information.

According to the article's author, Taylor Lorenz, MrBeast had uploaded some YouTube videos in which he mocked gay people, while some of his old posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, contained homophobic slurs. Not all of these, noted Lorenz, were from the distant past; he'd used a particular three-letter slur as recently as the previous December, just a few short months before the article came out.

When contacted by the magazine and asked for comment, MrBeast insisted he'd done nothing wrong. "I'm not offensive toward anyone," he said. "I'm not offensive in the slightest bit in anything I do. I'm just going to ignore it. I don't think anyone cares about this stuff." He then asked Lorenz if he could not mention the homophobia, and instead run a positive feature on him; when Lorenz informed him that wasn't how it worked, he replied, "I'm just a dumb kid that makes YouTube videos and I don't like doing interviews," and then ended the call. Within minutes, Lorenz wrote, all the those past tweets using that objectionable word had been deleted. 

He was accused of creating a toxic workplace for employees

After gaining a following, MrBeast built a media company that reportedly employed more than 300 production staffers. As Time noted, new hires tended to be paid well and were even provided with housing. On the flip side, however, there have also been multiple allegations that staffers are subjected to working in an environment that has been described as being rife with toxicity. "People are experiencing enormous amounts of stress," Scott Brown, a former creative producer, told Time. "There's a lot of fear that you can be fired at any moment."

Brown's recollection lined up with those of 11 other ex-staffers who shared their experiences with The New York Times, alleging that MrBeast's off-camera demeanor was strikingly different than that displayed in his YouTube videos. Matt Turner, who worked for the company as a content editor, claimed to the outlet that MrBeast would regularly berate him and belittle him, calling him a disparaging term used to denigrate those with mental disabilities. 

MrBeast himself, however, denied his former employees' claims, insisting that expecting his employees to do their best work does not equate to bullying. "We have high standards," he said in a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone. "But it's not a toxic work environment."

MrBeast is the highest-earning YouTuber ever

During all the years that MrBeast has been cranking out content, he has become more intuitive when it comes to knowing what works and what doesn't. "Now it's just like, how can we make people feel something?" he explained to Time.

That strategy has proven to be a winner — and, as a result, wildly lucrative. According to Forbes, MrBeast raked in a staggering $54 million in profits during 2021 alone, making him not just the highest-paid YouTube star of the year, but in the platform's history. And while that certainly sounds impressive, it's a fraction of what he earned just two years later. As Forbes reported, his 2023 profits were $82 million. In 2024, he signed a reported $100 million deal with Amazon for what's promised to be the biggest TV competition series in history, and he estimated that his videos generated between $600 and $700 million per year.

Despite making all those millions, MrBeast's relationship with his money isn't what most people might imagine it to be. "I don't have access to any of my bank accounts," he said in his interview with Time. "I have a CFO and everything, but [my mom is] the one who has access to the master bank account." So where is his money going? According to MrBeast, it's being funneled right back into his burgeoning brand. "I've reinvested everything to the point of — you could claim — stupidity, just believing that we would succeed," he explained. "And it's worked out."

He launched a virtual restaurant — and got sued for it

So, what exactly is a virtual restaurant? MrBeast answered that question in 2020 with the launch of MrBeast Burger, a dining concept in which participating eateries throughout the U.S. served up branded burgers – complete with MrBeast packaging — exclusively via delivery. The venture originally began with 300 locations throughout the U.S., but experienced so much initial demand that expansion was inevitable. "I see your tweets and I'm trying to double and triple the amount of restaurants asap!" he tweeted. "I want you all to be able to try a MrBeast Burgers." In 2022, MrBeast Burger opened its first physical location, at New Jersey's American Dream mall.

MrBeast partnered with an experienced company, Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC), to operate the whole thing and pull off his ambitious concept. The venture appeared to be successful — at first. In August 2023, MrBeast sued VDC in an attempt to end the partnership. In the incendiary lawsuit, MrBeast alleged that VDC damaged his brand's reputation by serving burgers that were described as "disgusting," "revolting," and "inedible," and that the burgers had received terrible reviews from customers. "To be clear, while this business has made millions of dollars, MrBeast has not received a dime," the suit added.

VDC countersued for breach of contract, seeking $100 million in damages. "An essential component of MrBeast Burger was the good will associated with Donaldson's involvement in and social media support of the MrBeast Burger business," the document claimed (via NRN), which MrBeast seemingly failed to do.

MrBeast will inherit X when Elon Musk dies — maybe

Among the many fans of MrBeast's online content is controversial billionaire Elon Musk, the outspoken mogul behind such businesses as Tesla, SpaceX, and X, the social media platform that had been known as Twitter until he bought it in 2022.

Musk was in the midst of completing that purchase when he posted a message on the platform, a statement in Russian that he claimed had come from Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's space agency, Roscosmos. Translated by Business Insider, the statement accused Musk of supplying Ukraine with terminals to access his Starlink satellite-based internet system. "And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you'll play the fool," it read in part. 

Musk responded with a cryptic tweet, jokingly implying that he was being targeted for assassination. "If I die under mysterious circumstances, it's been nice knowin ya," Musk tweeted. Musk quickly received a response from none other than MrBeast, who wrote, "If that happens can I have Twitter?" Musk simply replied, writing, "Ok." MrBeast indicated he was well aware there was nothing serious about their exchange when he tweeted his reply: "Jokes aside, be safe! I wuv u."

He gave his first big YouTube paycheck to a homeless person

Once MrBeast went viral and began racking up views, he finally started making money from the content he had been uploading to YouTube. He revealed his plans for that money in a YouTube video he uploaded in 2018. "I'm going to give a random homeless guy $10,000 — today," he said, and did just that when he encountered a homeless man holding a sign on the side of a road. After hearing his story, MrBeast then handed him a manila envelope containing $10,000 in cash.

MrBeast didn't stop there. He continued giving out money to homeless people, and in one video contributed $100,000 for supplies — including clothing — for homeless shelters. Since then, he has also funded 1,000 cataract surgeries to help blind people see, along with numerous other philanthropic giveaways, including digging 100 wells in Africa. 

More recently, in January 2024 he revealed plans to give away the $250,000 he earned from revenue via X, giving $25,000 apiece to 10 random followers. Then, in May, he celebrated his 26th birthday by announcing his plans to give away 26 Teslas — including one of the company's Cybertrucks. Interviewed by Time, MrBeast was hopeful that his philanthropy would inspire his viewers to follow suit in their own ways. "And instead of drinking alcohol, or doing drugs, it's a role model that they can be like, 'He does good and helps people,'" he said.

He spent $3.5 million to recreate Squid Game

Among MrBeast's more ambitious projects was a November 2021 video in which he recreated Netflix's hit South Korean drama series, "Squid Game" – right down to the sets. As viewers will recall, the premise of the series involved 456 desperate people playing twisted versions of children's games, competing for a giant cash prize that would wipe out their crushing debt. There is, however, a pretty significant twist: not everybody who participates makes it to the end of the competition alive.

In MrBeast's recreation, 456 people competed, with the winner taking home a $456,000 cash prize, mimicking the TV show's competitions (albeit without the resulting murders). MrBeast shelled out big bucks to pull off the stunt — although this time it wasn't his money. He revealed that the video cost more than $3.5 million to produce, with the cash put up by video game company Brawl Stars. Recreating the "Squid Game" sets cost $2 million, while $1.5 million went toward cash prizes for competitors. 

In 2023, a rumor emerged that director David Fincher was secretly working on a U.S. remake of "Squid Game" (that rumor was later squashed by Netflix's CEO). At the time, MrBeast responded to the reports of a "Squid Game" remake by tweeting, "Isn't that what we did? Lol."

He made a kid's dream of meeting a cheetah come true

If MrBeast's "Squid Game" stunt was over the top, so too was his response when he appeared in a video with a young fan, and asked, "If you could meet any animal on the planet, what would it be?" The boy responded by saying he'd love to meet a cheetah, but realized it wasn't all that feasible, given that cheetahs are native to Africa, while he and MrBeast were on a whole other continent.

The video then cuts to footage of MrBeast and the boy on safari in Africa, where they encountered gazelles, rhinos, and eventually cheetahs. When the kid asks if he can pet one, the helpful tour guide suggests that he knows a place where he can make that happen. This is followed by footage of the delighted lad in what appears to be a sanctuary, where he sits with some docile cheetahs, petting one while another licks his hand.

He set a few Guinness World records

When Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg launched Threads — a social media platform meant to rival X — MrBeast was an early adopter. Within hours of the launch, MrBeast became the first person to attract a following of 1 million. This gained him recognition by setting a Guinness World Record.

That wasn't the only Guinness World Record that he achieved, either. MrBeast also holds the record for creating the world's largest vegetarian burger, which weighed in at more than 4,600 lbs. In 2021, he set a new record as the year's biggest-earning YouTuber, after reportedly bringing in more than $54 million within that year. He also holds the record for being the most-subscribed YouTuber in history, overtaking that particular record's previous holder, Swedish YouTube phenom PewDiePie. In addition, MrBeast also set a record for the most followers gained in a single week, adding 7 million fans during a seven-day period in October 2023, and holds the record as the single male YouTuber with the biggest following.

MrBeast has also declared that he won a Guinness World Record before having actually won one. That was the case in August 2023, when he tweeted that a video in which he was stranded at sea for seven days had broken the world record for most views of any non-music video within a 24-hour period. Guinness responded by tweeting, "Best run this past our numbers people shouldn't we?"

He created his own charitable foundation

In September 2020, MrBeast launched Beast Philanthorpy, a nonprofit charitable organization with a three-point agenda. "Feed those who are hungry. House those who are homeless. Combat the suffering of those in need," reads its website. An extension of his earlier videos, in which he handed out envelopes of cash to needy people, he also created a standalone YouTube channel devoted to the organization's efforts. Those philanthropic efforts have run the gamut, from providing electricity to a small African village, to providing Thanksgiving dinners for 10,000 families, to Beast Philosophy's very first endeavor: starting up his own food bank.

While MrBeast has been criticized for using his philanthropy for self-promotion, that's actually kind of the whole point; the way he sees it, the more people he can entice to watch his videos, the more money he can generate, which can then be utilized for philanthropic purposes. 

"My channel has billions of views, and those are real people," MrBeast explained on Curiosity Stream. "It's not just numbers on a screen. And a large chunk of that are on videos where we help people and we did good. And I mean, now that you got me thinking about it, yeah, the videos that got 50-plus million views of me giving away money probably did inspire those 50 million people to go give money to other people."