Nine years ago, a 13-year-old kid named Jimmy Donaldson decided to post his first YouTube video. Today, he’s known to millions as MrBeast—and he’s one of the most popular stars on the platform. How did he pull off the coveted feat? It turns out you have to give to receive: Donaldson found success (and subscribers) by documenting his philanthropic endeavors. His channel is packed with videos in which he gives away tens of thousands of dollars to both friends and strangers.
But for as much money as he passes out, MrBeast’s net worth might surprise you. Get the story on his rise to fame, and find how much we think is in his bank account.
MrBeast Built A YouTube Empire With Over 50 Million Subscribers
MrBeast was born Jimmy Donaldson on May 7, 1998, in Greenville, South Carolina. As a child, he attended Greenville Christian Academy. However, he didn’t see the value of higher education; he was enrolled in college for all of two weeks before he dropped out (unbeknownst to his mom) to become a full-time Internet personality. He has one older brother, CJ, and was raised by a single mother.
Donaldson is known as YouTube’s biggest philanthropist. Surprise giveaways and contests make up a hefty chunk of his content, which is how he’s amassed 54.1 million subscribers to date.
It started in June 2017, when Donaldson gave $10,000 to a random homeless man. After filming his feel-good act of kindness, he proposed keeping up the momentum.
“I want to do a series where I just give away money to people,” he said. “We can pay off someone’s student loan, we can give a hundred people $100…” Watch the video to see how it all started:
The possibilities of future philanthropic posts were endless, and sponsors bit. Over the past few years, Donaldson has donated to various causes, including a $32,000 gift to the Wounded Warriors Project and $1 million worth of food to local food banks. He even gave away a house to an unsuspecting homeless man.
Other times Donaldson will give money away for pure entertainment value. He has surprised Twitch streamers with hefty donations, given away cars to random Uber passengers, and tipped servers with gold bars.
He struck gold with giveaway content. Prior to that, Donaldson played around with videos without any particular niche in mind. Early videos are of him playing Minecraft or Call of Duty, and gossiping about other YouTubers’ drama. He finally went viral in 2017, when he posted a video of himself counting to 100,000.
Donaldson obsessively studied footage until he understood the recipe for success. “The beauty of YouTube is double the effort isn’t double the views, it’s like 10x,” he told Bloomberg in 2020. “The first million subscribers you get will take years, but the second will come in a few months.”
“Once you know how to make a video go viral, it’s just about how to get as many out as possible,” he said. “You can practically make unlimited money.”
He emphasizes that he’s self-made, in case critics question his source of funds.
“If you want to know where [all the money] came from, my parents aren’t rich,” he told The Verge. “I’m only 20 years old, every dollar I’ve ever made came from YouTube — and YouTube just pays better than you think.”
What Is MrBeast’s Net Worth?
As someone who is neck-and-neck with Pew Die Pie in terms of popularity, it’s a safe bet that Donaldson is a wealthy guy. But how rich, exactly?
We estimate that he is worth anywhere from $8-16 million. His massive following across multiple platforms means he has multiple sources of revenue. And according to Celebrity Net Worth, he earned $24 million from his YouTube channel, merchandise sales, and brand sponsorships (Microsoft, Electric Arts) in 2020. Between that and over 3 billion views, he was listed as the second-highest-paid YouTuber last year (the number one spot went to child star Ryan Kaji).
Donaldson is also involved in ventures outside of social media. In December 2020, he launched MrBeast Burger, a smashburger franchise that operates our of ghost kitchens (or to-go-only restaurants) around the country. Based on the numbers, it looks like the internet star also has a future as a restaurateur:
What Does MrBeast Spend His Money On?
Donaldson doesn’t appear to indulge in an extravagant lifestyle. He still lives near his mom in North Carolina, and he seems happier giving money away than spending it on himself.
But the one thing he does splurge on is production. In order to keep the channel thriving, Donaldson pours his earnings right back into making content.
“At the end of 2019 our cash flow was low,” he confessed in an October 2020 interview with 100 Thieves. “We had to borrow a little bit of money to keep filming… We go hard. We definitely dump it all back it in—I’m not afraid.”
He says the most he has spent on a video was $1.2 million to create this 2019 million-dollar giveaway. One million went to the winner, and consolation prizes of $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000 were given to the second, third, and last-place finishers, respectively. The rest went to production costs. Watch the contest below to see who wins:
Donaldson told 100 Thieves he had a money manager to help keep things in order. But one adult in his life was a little more cautious about his rapid growth.
“When we first started scaling up, my mom and I would fight all the time,” he said. “She thought I was crazy.”
Donaldson also uses his earnings to take care of his crew. Between video editors, writers, and a production team, he relies on over 30 people to create viral content. Employees include childhood friends like Chris Tyson, who told Business Insider, “Never in a million years would I think it would get to this point. It’s crazy for us to think that this is just the beginning of everything.”
Bu in January, Donaldson confessed on Twitter that he was still operating at a loss. “Almost all my recent videos lost me a ridiculous amount of money,” he wrote. “That’s why I started the gaming channel so I can use the extra money to run the main at a loss and just focus on making the best videos possible ?”
Donaldson currently splits his content between seven different channels: MrBeast, MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts, MrBeast Shorts, MrBro, MrBeast2, and Beast Philanthropy.
“My end goal is to have Beast Shorts, Beast Reacts, and Beast Gaming all funneling money into the main so I can film videos that are so stupidly expensive they don’t make sense,” he continued. “Then leverage that attention to open a couple hundred food pantries/homeless shelters.”
Between his YouTube empire, burger concept, and—according to his Twitter bio—an affinity for cryptocurrency, we’re not too concerned that he’ll lose his fortune anytime soon. And even if he did, he’s proven that he has the persistence to build it back.
“Honestly, I just like helping people,” he told Anthony Padilla in a 2020 interview. “I want to do something crazy, man. I want to end hunger in Africa — or something so unfathomable that you’re like, ‘No, Jimmy, you’re stupid’. But I end up making a few hundred million dollars, and I invest and it grows into a few billion, and I do something so crazy with that that everyone is like, ‘wow.'”
We don’t foresee charitable giving ever going out of fashion. As long as Donaldson continues to bestow generous gifts on random people, people will be there for it.