Andy Warhol famously predicted, “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” That was well before the internet, and way before YouTube, Instagram, and reality TV. People can achieve instant notoriety for all kinds of reasons. How long you remain famous and what you do with that fame can vary wildly. For ending up on the better side of both questions, MrBeast is inducted into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame for 2023 as an Entrepreneur.
Jimmy Donaldson started out as a YouTube influencer doing silly things like counting to 100,000 live. (The video lives on in a director’s cut of just under 24 hours (YouTube’s maximum length) from the original 40 or so. hours. From there, he would do more elaborate and sometimes silly stunt videos that earned millions of views and subscribers. Donaldson also runs the YouTube channels Beast Reacts, MrBeast Gaming, MrBeast 2, and Beast Philanthropy.
So he’s famous for being famous. Big deal, right? Well, yes. As MrBeast, this empire employs some 250 people, many of them childhood friends from Greenville, North Carolina, where he lives. Internet fame usually ends with internet money, which ranges from imaginary to nonexistent. MrBeast’s videos are raking in the bucks. As in, reportedly, around $54 million in 2021.
In June of 2023, he uploaded a video comparing the financial and emotional cost of sinking a $1 boat versus a $1 billion yacht. We could explain it but just watch. Anyway, it racked up 47 million views in 24 hours, which is absurd. And also, worth a lot of money from YouTube.
So what does he do with all that money? In addition to all those jobs created, you may have noticed Beast Philanthropy in the above list. Donaldson has managed to turn a good chunk of his fame into good deeds. Whether he’s challenging viewers to contribute to a cause for a video, or performing charitable stunts, he gets a lot of attention and turns it into some good.
Donaldson is a co-creator of Team Trees, a fundraiser for the Arbor Day Foundation that has raised over $23 million, and Team Seas, a fundraiser for Ocean Conservancy, as well as The Ocean Cleanup which has raised over $30 million. He is also a founder of MrBeast Burger and Feastables, which are changing the way fast food works in a post-Covid world.
In 2023, he launched a project to dig 100 wells for communities in Kenya that didn’t have access to clean water. First, great work. Second, thanks for shining a light on a crisis where your theoretical internet dollars can help. And yet, many politicians in Kenya criticized him for embarrassing them and their inability to fix the crisis themselves. Can’t please everybody. That’s why YouTube has a thumbs-down button, right?
Nevertheless, it’s hard to criticize someone who spreads joy, creates jobs, gives to charity, and seems to enjoy life. For all of that, MrBeast is inducted as an Entrepreneur into the Popo Culture Hall of Fame for 2023.