The YouTube Beast: MrBeast

The story of Jimmy Donaldson, the YouTube Beast

First try

Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, was born on May 7, 1998. He grew up in North Carolina in the city of Greenville and graduated from a private high school in 2016. In February 2012, at 12 years old, Jimmy uploaded his first video onto YouTube.

The channel he uploaded it on was called Beast5TY. What did he upload? Mostly COD videos that he recorded with his laptop’s built-in microphone. It was the best he could afford at the time. He got a little more than 50 subs. Even during this time, Jimmy tried to hack his way to a higher sub count. The first strategy he tried was “Sub4Sub” which got him 7000+ subs. But his new subs weren’t interested in his content(the problem with Sub4Sub). One of his videos at this time only got 5 views.

3 of them were his own.

Second try

Embarrassed with his low view count, he deleted his first channel. He had a second channel that nobody knew about-created on the 19th of February, 2012, called MrBeast6000. The ‘MrBeast’ name came from his XBox Live Gamer Tag. He began uploading onto the channel.

The first video he uploaded was a Minecraft video called “Worst Minecraft Saw Trap Ever???”. He would go on to upload various Minecraft videos and Pokemon gaming videos on the channel.

Even the YT Beast had humble beginnings.

He hit 100 subs on 1st April 2012. But Jimmy was not discouraged by his slow growth. He acknowledged it and kept moving forward. In one of his videos he even thanks his 100 subscribers saying it meant that a lot that they had subscribed. Yeah, Jimmy was nice even then.

In 2013, MrBeast started experimenting with innovative ideas to get new subs-using a video called Channel Trailer in which he asked people to subscribe to his channel. This was another sign of MrBeast’s entrepreneurial spirit when it came to hacking his way to more subs.

MrBeast hit 300 subs in the middle of 2013. At the time, he said that he never thought that he would even get one subscriber and that “300 was crazy” for him. On 11 November 2013, MrBeast uploaded his first semi-viral video.

“How much money does Pew Die Pie make?” was a video where Jimmy wanted to show the earning possibility for a YouTuber. The video hit 50,000 views.

Not giving up

Around this time, MrBeast started making money off his channel-earning up to $1 per day. He used to save it all up for months until he could buy small things that would make his production better-like a better microphone. The success of the PewDePie video, kickstarted Jimmy’s “How much money” series, where he would guesstimate a YouTubers ad revenue based on their view count. He even uploaded one episode of himself where he uploaded a screenshot showcasing his $100 earnings for the month.

It seemed impressive to him at the time. One month after he uploaded this video, in April 2014, he hit 1000 subscribers. It took him 2 years and 120 videos. But he didn’t stop to smell the roses.

He put up several videos throughout the rest of 2014-seeing little success. This was when he considered quitting. By February 2015, MrBeast had put up 1000+ videos on his channel(although he had deleted most of them). But at the time he hadn’t uploaded in over a month-basketball and high school had been keeping him busy.

But after a month of deliberation, MrBeast decided to keep going. Mostly because of the few “really nice” comments he was getting on every one of his videos. He was also getting 200+ views on each of his videos. He considered it to be “crazy” at the time. Even during his early days, Jimmy was obsessed about growing his subscriber base-something that most other creators of his time didn’t really do. He even shot a video that documented this obsession.

“Dear Future Me” was a video that Jimmy shot in October, 2015 & scheduled to upload in April 2016. At the time he had 8k subs. In the video, he predicted that he would be at 15000 subs in 6 months. When the video went up, he had 25,000 subs.

It was also around this time(late 2015) that Jimmy changed the name of the channel from “MrBeast6000” to just “MrBeast”. Just as he saw his first major influx of subs however, real life came calling. Jimmy had to go to college.

Tough decisions

In late 2016, MrBeast enrolled in college. For 2 weeks he tried the college lifestyle-going to class & attending lectures. Until he decided he’d rather be poor than do something other than YouTube. He told his mom the same. She wasn’t pleased & made him move out of the house.

This didn’t stop Jimmy though. He just kept posting. He had been growing steadily and by March 2016, he had 20,000 subs. He posted a video stating that his goal by March 2017 was 100,000 subs. He hit that number 4 months later.

It started when he randomly tweeted that he would count up to 10,000 if he got 50 retweets on his tweet. The retweets happened in a few hours. And MrBeast started the first of his challenges. The video performed comparatively well(and took 4 hours to complete).

This lead to a series of bizarre challenges that MrBeast would perform with the same tweet-retweet strategy. His channel crossed 100,000 with the video “CUTTING TABLE IN HALF WITH PLASTIC KNIFES”. People began to recognize MrBeast as someone who would do everything in his power to complete the insane, (and let’s be honest) completely pointless tasks that he set out on.

A channel that would do WHATEVER it took to grab attention. A series of more outrageous tasks followed:-
Reading The Entire Dictionary In One Sitting
Watching Dance Till You’re Dead For 10 Hours
Reading The Entire Bee Movie Script But every time They Say “Bee” I Repeat All the Previous Bees

Others included:-
Reading The Longest English Word (190,000 Characters)
Spinning A Fidget Spinner For 24 Hours Straight
Watching It’s Everyday Bro For 10 Hours Straight

However, the video that would skyrocket his growth was just Jimmy counting…
…to a 100,000.

The big break

On 8th of January, 2017, Mr Beast would upload a video titled “Counting to 100,000 in one video.” The original video was 40 hours long-the 24-hour version of it is present online. The stunt got him 10 million views and 90,000 subs in 5 days.

The video cemented MrBeast’s reputation as the creator of a new form of YT content-absurd challenges.

And the people sat up and paid attention. In March 2016, MrBeast had posted a subscriber goal of 100,000 by 2017. By 6th of May of 2017, MrBeast hit 1 million subscribers. Incidentally, he crossed the 1M mark during a live stream of one of his other videos. Because of a bad internet connection, he did not see it happening. But it did.

Through crazy passion & just sheer persistence, MrBeast had got to 1M subscribers. 1 month after hitting the number, MrBeast got his first-ever brand deal. Quid, a software startup offered him $5,000. MrBeast said if they doubled it, he would donate the money to a homeless person.

“Giving A Random Homeless Man $10,000” was a video that Jimmy shot as soon as the brand gave him the money. He just found the first homeless person he saw and gave the money away. We should take a moment to really appreciate this.

After almost 5 years of not making ANYTHING from something he had given his EVERYTHING to, the first time he made serious bank, a 19-year-old MrBeast chose to give it away. He also filmed and uploaded it(without knowing for sure if the video would work).

The video worked. Because of its success, more brands stepped up to sponsor MrBeast. And just like before, MrBeast would give it all away. He gave away tens of thousands of dollars to the homeless, Twitch & Fortnite Streamers, pizza delivery guys, waiters & Uber drivers.

Why did he do it though?

The answer to that question comes in the video where MrBeast donated 100,000$ to his mom. In the video, he says his aim was not only to give her the money but also to get a good piece of content. He had realized that he could entertain people while helping them.

So MrBeast kept making money. And kept reinvesting almost all of it. Sponsorship money, merchandise revenue, ad revenue-it all went into his videos. By the end of 2017, he reached 2M subscribers. His growth would only explode from there.

MrBeast kept upping the ante with the giveaways and his subscriber count kept growing proportionally. In fact, he kept adding a million subscribers almost every 2 months. And he began rewarding each millionth(3rd,4th,5th) subscriber a crazy gift.

The MrBeast-kind-of-crazy

What kinda crazy? The MrBeast kind:-
Giving 3,000,000 Pennies To My 3,000,000th Subscriber
Giving My 4,000,000th Subscriber 4,000,000 Cookies

He then began making the gift a mystery element-one that he would reveal during the middle of the video. It continued for every millionth sub.
Giving My 5,000,000th Subscriber 5,000,000 _________(5M pieces of popcorn)
Giving my 6,000,000 subscriber 6,000,0000 _________(6M blocks of MineCraft dirt)
Giving my 7,000,000 subscriber 7,000,0000 _________(7M sheets of toilet paper)

By mid-2018, MrBeast was at 7M subs. His donations had also upped the ante. Check these out for size:-
I Donated $1000 Every Time She Blinked – Fortnite Streamers
Donating $100,000 To A Random Fortnite Streamer
I Gave $20,000 To People From An Ice Cream Truck

And then,
Dropping 20,000$ from a drone
Guess the right cup win $100,000
Ordering water and tipping $30,000
By May 2018 by the time he was 20 years old MrBeast had given away $500,000

The Beast Ensemble

MrBeast had started getting his friends to help him create videos towards the end of 2017. By the middle of 2018, he had 4 usual suspects that appeared in each of his videos. Chris Tyson, Chandler Hallow, Garrett Williamson & Jake Franklin(only the first 2 are still with him).

Chris was one of MrBeast’s childhood friends & also his first subscriber. And Chandler?
Chandler began as a janitor on one of MrBeast’s videos. He was brought on to clean up after their stunts & they became friends!

On Nov 3, 2018, MrBeast devised a challenge that would let one of his crew-Chandler, Chris, Garett and Jake to get their hands on a new Lamborghini. How? They just had to be the last person to take their hands off it.

This video further exploded his fan base and by carried him past the 10 Million mark in Dec, 2018. It also marked the beginning of what is perhaps his most widely known content pieces-Extreme Challenges With Friends.

Another genius move

This began his next set of challenges with friends which can be characterized into 2 categories(both of which have now become common on YouTube):-
Last To Leave, Gets $X
Spending (or Surviving) 24 Hours in _____

Some of the most outrageous of the first category of stunts were:-
Last to leave RollerCoaster wins 20,000$
Last to remove hand wins house
Last to leave Ramen Noodle Pool wins $20,000

And in the ‘Spending’ category:-
Spending 24 hours in Area 51 Spending 24 hours on top of a mountai
Spending 24 hours in the Bermuda Triangle


His other stunts also got crazier. For example:-
Playing Battleship with real ships
Going through the same drive-through 1000 times.
I Put 100 Million Orbeez In My Friend’s Backyard

All of these videos were doing extremely well. So he raised the stakes once more. In a series of videos in the second half of 2019, MrBeast selected random fans who had bought his merchandise & gave them the chance to win his biggest prize yet – $1Million. He created 5 different “Last to leave challenges” and let his fans battle it out for the prize.

Mark Pate won the $1M(and spent it in 24 hours in a video with MrBeast) These 6 videos performed extremely well and resulted in over 110M views. In June of 2019, MrBeast hit 20M subscribers. To celebrate 20M, MrBeast decided to go EVEN bigger.

He launched the campaign Team Trees with the goal of raising $20M to plant 20M trees by Jan1st 2020. Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey contributed. They exceeded their goal and raised over $21.8M before January 1st, 2020.

The key to his success

MrBeast has kept growing throughout 2020 at the rate of 2M subscribers per month. In August of 2020, that number became 3M/month. During that time, he also stated that he had already spent $10M on his videos in donations and prizes. In 2020 alone.

So what makes MrBeast so successful on YT? It’s no secret that YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes videos based on total watch time. If a video is watched from start to finish it will be promoted to others via the recommended panel of YT. How has MrBeast cracked this code?

With Jenga storytelling. Jenga storytelling is where a viewer already knows the end result, but the stakes of the video continue to increase as view duration increases. Making you stay for the entirety of the video. Logan Paul has also reference Jenga Storytelling, saying, “The person who can crack the code of the Jenga Format for YouTube will win. Hands down, they will take over.”

But how exactly does he come up with these wacky ideas to ensure Jenga Storytelling? In an interview with Casey Neistat, he said, “If the average YouTuber spends 1-hr brainstorming ideas & 5 hrs filming, then I want to spend 10 hrs brainstorming & days filming.”

Brainstorming. The secret behind the rise and rise of MrBeast.

Ticking off the bucket-list

The best part of all this though? He’s 22. He’s just getting started.

For the future, MrBeast has stated that he wants to start 50 channels like MrBeast and run all of them. He then wants to use that profit to open homeless shelters & food banks. But that’s not even the most ambitious of his plans. He wants to become YouTube’s first Billionaire.

And run for President someday.

Can you imagine that? A Billionaire Philanthropist YouTuber as the President of the United States. Personally, we can think of only one thing to say.

Vote MrBeast.

What’s MrBeast been upto?

Life as YouTube’s reigning King of active viewership can be a hard one. Just because there’s always more to do.

In the last year, MrBeast has:-

  1. Partnered with Mark Rober and YouTube once again with the mission of raising 30M for ocean cleanup.
  2. Launched Beast Burgers. And sold 1M sandwiches in 2 months.
  3. Launched a food bank and a charity, with a capacity for feeding millions of people a year.
  4. Launched Creator Games-the most viewed YouTube Live Original.
  5. Created 2020’s YouTube Rewind.
  6. Launched Beast philanthropy, MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts, MrBeast 2 and MrBeast Shorts.
  7. Backed companies like Current, Juice, JellySmack and Coinbase.
  8. Finished the second edition of Finger on the app contest-which started with upwards of 1M players.

All that, while uploading crazy challenges every single week to his main MrBeast channel.
And taking his channel to 74M subs(as of Nov 2021).

That’s a beast of a YouTube resume.

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