Jimmy Donaldson, otherwise known as MrBeast, has been taking Youtube by storm. At only 20 years old, he's the fastest growing influencer on the platform with over 16 million subscribers and over 2 billion total views and a world record holder with the second most liked video on Youtube besides a music video, longest Uber ride, the only man to have bought one snicker bar from every Walmart in America, and the only man to tie his shoes in every state are just a few of the records he holds. He's known for his crazy and unique videos, such as spending 24 hours in an insane asylum, building a giant house made only of legos, and buying a car with only pennies. He's also well known for his generosity where he has donated over 1.5 million dollars through his content. I had the great pleasure to talk to Jimmy about how he comes up with his video ideas, his favorite videos to make, the secret on how he is able to donate so much money and more:
James: How did you get started? Where did you come up with the channel name? Were your family/friends supportive of your channel/lifestyle since the beginning?
MrBeast: I started YouTube like every other inspiring 13-year-old trying to make it on the platform. I shot the videos in my room (while my mom thought I was studying). My first few years of YouTube were gaming channels, so it was easy not having the expensive equipment; yet, many of the first in real life videos were shot with an iPhone. I saved my allowance and slowly upgraded my equipment over the years.
My channel name is always such an interesting source of conversation. The honest answer is MrBeast6000 was my original Xbox Gamertag; years later I dropped the 6000 when I noticed the bigger YouTuber's didn't have numbers on their channel name. I'm very close with my mom and she has always been extremely supportive of my dream. Many of my high school classmates helped me out a lot during the earlier videos; we always had so much fun! I can't say everyone was supportive of my lifestyle decisions early on as I always chose YouTube, whether it be analytics, filming, or watching, versus hanging out with friends or going on family vacations.
James: How do you come up with your video ideas? How long does it normally take to come up with one that is actually executed? How long does it take to use video idea and actually do it? Can you walk me through the process?
MrBeast: Over the years I have developed multiple ways to come up with video ideas. I study the platform daily, therefore I've learned how to identify what is working and what ideas have stalled out. Sometimes we create a video off of a meme (like the egg video) or sometimes we start a new trend (like the recent influx of challenging videos). Some days a spontaneous joke turns into a brainstorming session for a video; some days no ideas seem to be good enough. Our video creation model is normal: brainstorm the idea, script writing, set up crew, rehearsal, videotape, clean-up crew and edit. Some videos we can do in a day; some videos take an entire week. It all depends on the location and set development.
James: You've done a lot of insane videos throughout your career. What was your favorite video to make? What was a video that you regret doing? Can you tell me about a time when a video went wrong/didn't go as expected?
MrBeast: My favorites are the rewarding ones. Very recently, we gave a local homeless man in my hometown a house. One of my friend's dad knew about him and his situation and we set out to make a video about providing him with a fully furnished and stocked apartment, all expenses paid. He didn't know what we were up to until we told him the good news and his reaction to the generosity is why I do these type videos. I like to help people.
James: You've done a lot of long challenges at the beginning of your career, some lasting over 24 hours straight like reading the dictionary, watching paint dry, and reading the bee movie script. What was going on in your mind while you were filming those? What made you decide to film these kinds of videos? Did you think that these kinds of stunts would make you blow up?
MrBeast: This was during my make it or break it time. I had just moved out of my mom's house and I knew if I was going to make it on YouTube, I had to grind like never before. I took the chance that since I had the time, doing these boring, unique challenges might get people's attention. The video where I counted to 100,000 was so outrageous that it caught people's attention. Once I realized people were going to watch me do these boring challenges, it became a personal challenge for me to keep one-upping myself on which crazy challenge to put myself through next.
James: You are well known as a philanthropist who has donated over a million dollars in your videos. How are you able to donate so much money and at the same time make a living for yourself and pay for all the other added expenses for your videos? What's the most you've donated for one video? What made you want to donate so much money to people even after you made it big?
MrBeast: Honestly, up until about four months ago, we were living paycheck to paycheck. I took a chance and reinvested everything we earned, either from a brand deal or AdSense, right back into the channel; whether it be for hiring people, video production, or giving away money. I have used brand deal monies for donations up to $100,000. Although I donate a lot of my own money, within the next week, I am posting my first video where I am donating $100,000 myself. The core component to my drive to success is that I love to make a difference in other people's lives. Whether it be to the people who work for me or those in need. I am happily motivated by knowing my ability to give eases the burden on an otherwise stressful day or situation for another person.
James: Have there been any video ideas that you turned down or thought were too over the top/extreme?
MrBeast: Yeah, we try to stay away from anything that would be dangerous enough where someone could get hurt. This isn't Jackass or Ridiculousness. We're trying to put a lot of thought, creativity, and planning into making an interesting video that our subscribers will enjoy.
James: You have made a few stunts promoting YouTuber Pewdiepie sub count, including wearing Sub 2 Pewdiepie shirts at this year's Super Bowl, which got the world's attention. Why did you decide to heavily support him that much? Have you met since? In the future, do you plan on passing him in subscribers?
MrBeast: Pewdiepie is a YouTube creator and has been the most subscribed on the platform until T-Series. But T-Series is basically a corporation, not an individual. I think the creators on the platform should support other creators to keep original content popular. No, I've never met Pewdiepie although we have talked after a couple of my campaigns to assist him. My goal is to be the best YouTuber I can be.
James: What are some things about you that your subscribers wouldn't know by watching your videos?
MrBeast: I like to keep my private life as private as I can, but I'm very close with my family especially my mom. I have an older brother and a younger sister and we're pretty tight-knit. They keep me grounded and don't let fame go to my head. Whatever I'm doing off camera, I always strive for positivity and no drama.
James: Are you planning on doing anything else besides Youtube? (acting, podcasting, writing, etc.) What videos/collaborations are you planning on doing this year?
YouTube will probably always be my primary platform to communicate with my fans and subscribers. Videos are just so compelling that they have to be the primary means to share content. We have lots of great ideas for videos' coming up, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise!
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