Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, is sitting at 51.5m YouTube subscribers after uploading what can only be described as immensely charitable efforts — but how can he afford to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars on a regular basis?
It’s not every day that you see somebody routinely giving away over $100,000; nor is it a regular occurrence for a 22-year-old to buy five stores just to give away all of the contents. What is common, however, is that it’s MrBeast who’s leading the way in viral philanthropy through such stunts.
Whether it’s giving away a $100,000 diamond, making somebody the proud owner of an $800,000 island, or breaking into a house just to leave $50,000, he has made a name for himself by performing increasingly-crazy acts of kindness. This comes at a severe personal cost though, foregoing millions of dollars to become one of the most well-known faces online.
With this in mind, how does MrBeast afford all of these insane stunts? How does he even have any money left over to feed himself? He has a few revenue streams that all help him to not only sustain himself but also his unwavering growth on the internet, and here we take a look at each of them.
How does MrBeast make money?
MrBeast has to earn a lot of money to sustain his videos, and his main channel is a loss leader in order to attract new viewers — it’s effectively a marketing spend. He’s set up other revenue streams to allow for this to happen, with one ultimate goal in mind that we’ll get into later in the article.
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As with any YouTuber that is part of the platform’s partner programme, the most blatant source of income for MrBeast is through AdSense. Display, overlay, and video advertisements are displayed on his content and he gets a cut. This is determined by the number of views a video garners and the CPM rate, the latter of which is where YouTube determine how much money he receives per thousand views. He earns a percentage of the income Google’s video platform makes from these advertisements.
Another common method of earning money from YouTube videos are brand deals. Companies big and small flock to relevant content to advertise themselves but if they want maximum impact then MrBeast is the target, almost always receiving over 30m viewers on a video. His style of content is designed to attract eyeballs and, in a climate where attention is everything, he’s the gold standard.
A genius aspect of his approach to content is that more brands want to work with him as he continues to grow, and he can charge increasing amounts for a spot in a video. Brands pay the larger figure and this allows him to make more attention-grabbing videos. It’s a circle of sustainable growth and nobody knows where the ceiling is — if it exists at all.
Discount browser extension Honey tapped MrBeast to create a pre-roll advertisement for them, with the instantly-recognizable YouTuber appearing before videos start to explain why the viewer should give the extension a try. We don’t know the terms of this deal but the chances of him doing it for free, considering that he’s trying to increase his income as much as possible, are slim.
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He also has a suite of supporting YouTube channels that were designed to generate income that allow him to support himself as his main channel loses money. The likes of MrBeast Shorts, MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts, MrBeast 2, and Beast Philanthropy all exist to allow his original MrBeast channel to be a loss leader that grants him the maximum amount of attention.
Closing out the video-related sources of income is Twitch. While he’s not particularly active on the live streaming platform, he unsurprisingly receives impressive viewership numbers when he decides to go live. He can run advertisements during a stream to monetize these viewers, many of which also choose to subscribe and donate to him also.
What’s a content creator without merchandise? MrBeast has bespoke lines of clothing that range from standard ‘Beast’ apparel to gaming-specific designs. He even launched a range of clothing for his MrBeast Burger venture.
Launching a burger chain across the United States, MrBeast gave away $100 with every order placed at the first location he opened. When the service became available more widely, though (there are at least 300 locations to date), he made a limited menu available with a delivery-only option. It proved to be a hit, though we don’t know the revenue generated from this innovative business venture. This is a milestone in the world of YouTube creators, investing in new revenue streams and will no doubt inspire others to try something new.
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Next up for MrBeast and his fans may well be an exclusive membership club. Much like with Team Liquid, Envy, and Cloud9 in esports in recent months, a membership scheme typically provides exclusive perks such as additional content, behind-the-scenes insights, and early access to merchandise. As per MrBeast’s musings on his secondary Twitter account, he would charge $10 a month for fans to access exclusive content like a “podcast” and “occasional random videos.” 100% of the revenue he would earn from the hypothetical club would go towards his videos, furthering his mission.
MrBeast’s end game
Now that we’ve established that MrBeast both makes and gives away an absolute fortune, it’s interesting to try and contextualize why he’s adopted this extreme genre of content that comes with such eye-watering cost. Spoiler: it’s all for impact.
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The 22-year-old is truly a philanthropist and his long-term goal is to maximize his earning potential just to give it all away. According to a tweet in August 2020, he wants to open “hundreds of homeless shelters” and “food banks” as vehicles for transferring his wealth. While he’s losing a lot of money through the stunts he pulls on his main channel, he’s able to command more and more from advertisers who want to get in front of his ever-growing audience.
Just in case anybody questions his dedication to this noble cause, he has promised that he’ll die with “0 dollars in [his] bank” and is determined to forego a “materialistic life” often adopted by those with fame and fortune.