Who is MrBeast, and why has the YouTube star come to Australia for his latest stunt?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun25,2024
James ‘Jimmy’ Donaldson, otherwise known by his YouTube account name, MrBeast, is in Australia for the first time to promote a competition offering 10 cars as prizes.
Donaldson is an American social media content creator and entrepreneur who currently has the highest number of subscribers of any account on YouTube.

He’s recognised for his viral stunt videos, which are largely consumed by a gen Z audience, and is considered one of the most financially successful online personalities in the world.

Who is MrBeast?

Donaldson is one of the most popular YouTube creators in the world, and his videos frequently garner hundreds of millions of views.
He has 288 million YouTube subscribers and over 57 million followers on Instagram.

The 26-year-old first became famous on YouTube in 2017, with a viral video where he counted out loud from one to 100,000, a stunt that Donaldson says took over 40 hours to complete but was later edited down to a 24-hour video.

A man wearing a hoodie and smiling in a stadium, with people in the rows of seats behind him.

MrBeast is one of the most popular YouTube creators in the world, with some 288 million subscribers on the video platform. Source: Getty / Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Since rising to YouTube acclaim, Donaldson has refined a signature style of fast-paced videos that frequently involve an extreme stunt, such as offering participants US$456,000 ($687,800) to play in a ‘real life Squid Game’, replicating the types of stunts seen in the South Korean Netflix show.

The large prizes that Donaldson offers have also motivated participants to attempt other extreme activities, such as facing phobias, surviving in the wilderness, and sitting in a pool of ramen noodles.

In late 2023, Donaldson paid a man US$10,000 ($15,000) per day to live in a makeshift supermarket called Beast Grocery by himself. The man stayed in the building alone for 45 days.

How does he make money?

Donaldson makes a large amount of money from advertising revenue from his videos and sponsorship deals, with Forbes estimating that he earned US$82 million ($123.5 million) in 2023.
He also sells merchandise for his YouTube channel, such as hoodies and activewear. In 2020, Donaldson launched the MrBeast Burger brand, which is a virtual restaurant that operates out of commercial kitchens and is sold through food delivery services.

In 2022, he launched his Feastables brand of snacks.

Is he controversial?

Donaldson has been criticised for publicising acts of charity on his YouTube account.
In 2023, he published a video explaining that he had funded sight-restoring cataract surgery for 1,000 people around the world.

The video included a thumbnail image showing the star next to a shocked child with a bandage around their head and tears streaming down their face, but no bandages of that kind were featured in the video.

At one point in the video, Donaldson asked one of the patients if they could read words on a screen before this surgery, with the screen reading that the patient had just won US$10,000 ($15,000).
After the patient replied that he could not read it, Donaldson explained to the camera that the man wouldn’t be able to read the television until after his surgery and he couldn’t “wait to see his reaction”.

Donaldson received backlash on social media from viewers for the video, with viewers accusing him of ‘poverty porn’.

One user said that Donaldson “makes his ludicrous fortune by making poverty porn. If he wasn’t milking poor people for content, he wouldn’t be able to cure 1,000 people’s blindness.”
Another person posted that the video was “no different than filming yourself giving food to homeless folks, just more commercialized and a friendlier face”.
MrBeast defended himself on social media platform X — then known as Twitter — in response to this backlash.

He claimed the criticism was hypocritical, and that he had simply done what many Twitter users argued should happen: that “rich people … help others with their money”.

The Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian non-profit aid organisation working to prevent blindness and restore sight, said at the time that it was “heartened to see greater awareness raised of avoidable blindness”.

Why is MrBeast in Australia?

Donaldson is in Australia for the first time to promote a competition for his Feastables snack brand, which is relaunching in Australian grocery stores.

The YouTuber is offering 10 cars — which range from a Toyota Hiace to a Lamborghini Huracán — as prizes. The competition also offers winners the opportunity to feature in one of Donaldson’s YouTube videos.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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