MrBeast, Jake Paul and Markiplier score massive paydays

MrBeast is the new No. 1 with record earnings, and Jake Paul ranks second despite past scandals. Here’s how much these celebrities made.

OWith a name like MrBeast, perhaps it was inevitable that he would become as big as he did. The 23-year-old earned $54 million in 2021 – the most of any YouTuber ever – as his videos racked up 10 billion views, doubling from the previous year. What do people love so much? Well, the internet loves watching stunts, and MrBeast excels at pulling off high-profile stunts. In the past year, he’s spent 50 hours buried alive, offered $10,000 to anyone who wants to sit in a tub of snakes, and hosted his own version of squid gamebuilding replicas of sets from the Netflix show.

MrBeast tops our latest list of highest-earning first-time YouTubers and probably earns himself a spot among the highest-paid entertainers in the world. In fact, his $54 million salary would have put him in the Top 40 of our latest Celebrity 100, a ranking of the highest-paid stars in all of entertainment, above the likes of Billie Eilish, Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie. and even BTS. The two right behind MrBeast–No. 2 Jake Paul ($45 million) and No. 3 Markiplier ($38 million) – would also have made this Celebrity 100, which had a $35 million threshold.

In total, YouTubers collectively earned around $300 million in 2021 – another record amount – up 40% from the previous year, driven primarily by increased views on their YouTube channels and the ad revenue they generate from those videos. (More people than ever on YouTube: the platform now has nearly 2 billion users, a 40% increase in five years.) About half of their revenue comes from that ad revenue. To further increase their salary, all of these stars have branded product lines. And they try to generate additional income from Twitch, Snap, Facebook, podcasts, NFT, even hamburgers. A few have signed lucrative deals with Spotter, a Los Angeles startup buying up the rights to old YouTube videos.

Their bulky checks make one thing abundantly clear: it’s getting harder and harder to tell a digital star from an Angelina.

#1 | MrBeast

Thanks to this increase in views, his 2021 salary is almost double what last year’s No. 1 brought in. (That would be the $29.5 million brought in by Ryan Kaji, who slips to No. 7.) Another eye-catching 2021 project: MrBeast Burger, an app and menu that lets fans order MrBeast-branded meals in 1,600 restaurants across the country that have partnered with him to fulfill orders. MrBeast handles the marketing, pushing the burgers to its nearly 90 million YouTube subscribers. He and the restaurants then split the profits from the orders. So far, the operation has sold 5 million sandwiches.

#2 | Jacques-Paul

Look who’s baaack: Paul returns to this list — he last did so in 2018 with $21.5 million in earnings — largely thanks to his boxing earnings. He fought three high-profile fights last year with a pair of MMA fighters: one match with Ben Askren, two with Tyron Woodley. (Paul has won them all.) In many ways, boxing, a sport long populated by controversial stars, is a natural fit for Paul, himself accustomed to controversy. He had been one of YouTube’s most popular names until his brother Logan posted a December 2017 video filmed in a Japanese forest eerily known as a suicide spot. Fans hated it – clearly deeming it in poor taste – and the backlash hit both Paul brothers. Their sponsors cut them and YouTube demonetized them. Now they can earn ads on YouTube again, but Jake posts less often than before, using the site primarily to market his boxing career, which now accounts for almost 90% of his income.

#3 | Markiplar

Few social media stars can move merchandise like Markiplier, who saw particularly strong sales of t-shirts, hoodies and other items related to his Unus Annus series, the main reason his earnings nearly doubled from to our previous list. (These Unus Annus videos were a collaboration with fellow YouTuber Ethan Nestor-Darling and ran on Markiplier’s YouTube channel beginning in 2019. A year later, Markiplier deliberately deleted them all.) Next, Markiplier hopes to remake a television star. In 2021, he is filming a television adaptation of At the edge of sleep, a post-apocalyptic thriller he originally dramatized as a podcast in 2019; the TV project still needs a home, and he hopes to sell the series to a company like Netflix or Hulu later this year. Markiplier remains a YouTube staple (31 million subscribers), having first cemented his fame by recording himself performing things like Five nights at Freddy’sa video game about a haunted pizzeria.

#4 | Rhet and Link

What started as the duo hosted a cheesy daily talk show, Good morning mythical, has become something of an empire with spin-offs and brand extensions, increasing their YouTube views and revenue. One of their most successful efforts: Mythical cuisine, a cooking series with separate host, Josh Scherer. The two-year-old show already has 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube. Another initiative is their Mythical Accelerator fund through which they intend to invest $5 million in other YouTubers. (They struck their first deal in 2021, paying an undisclosed sum to newcomer Jarvis Johnson.) And in October, they complied with a fan’s longstanding request to drop their family act, hosting a two hours, a decidedly R-rated livestream, an event for which they sold 70,000 tickets for up to $50 a pop.

#5 | Unspeakable

Unspeakable can’t be silent Minecraft, the pixelated video game that is now a childhood staple. Over 20 million people subscribe to his four YouTube channels, where he posts videos of himself performing Minecraft and other games. In other clips, he does things like fill a room with live alligators. Born in Houston as Nathan Graham, he has posted regularly on YouTube for the past decade. Last year, Unspeakable sold its catalog of YouTube videos to Spotter, betting it can use the lump sum to grow its business faster rather than waiting for the videos to generate ad revenue. (Spotter is now one of the biggest independent owners of YouTube content, having done several deals like Unspeakable’s back catalog deal in recent years.) In the meantime, Spotter’s money was at least enough to help Unspeakable debut here.

#6 | Nastya

Nastya also struck a deal with Spotter last year, selling the monetization rights to her old YouTube videos to Spotter for cash up front while retaining the rights to any new videos she puts up. . The seven-year-old girl, who immigrated from Russia with her parents, has attracted 87.5 million subscribers to her channel Like Nastya, where she recounts her life in prosaic installments. (Top hits of 2021: Videos about decorating Halloween cupcakes and hanging out with best friends Evelyn and Adrian.) In addition to spotter money, she and her social workers have been actively adding d ‘other brand extensions, including a merchandise line and an NFT collection.

#7 | Ryan Kaji

Ryan started on YouTube when he was 4 years old, examining and playing with toys. Now 10, his parents and others protecting his business interests, including former Disney executive Chris Williams, are increasingly focused on maintaining his brand as he ages out of time. game. The answer, they hope, could be the animated characters who co-star with Ryan. (Thanks to licensing from Williams and media startup, they made progress. One of those characters, Red Titan, a child superhero with a crimson cape and a passing resemblance to Ryan, became well-known enough to appear as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon for the past two years.) As of now, his main YouTube channel, Ryan’s World, has 31 million subscribers and a huge lineup of products and branded toys sold at big box retailers like Target and Walmart.

#8 | Perfect man

If that sounds dangerous to you, it’s gold for this sports comedy quintet (twins Coby and Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney). Their videos are filled with things like someone pressing 405 pounds underwater and stepping on the wings of a mid-air biplane. What could be better than watching these stunts online? See them up close and personal: The band will be doing their third tour this summer in 24 cities. And for the bravest at home, Dude Perfect released last year 101 cool tips, tricks and tricksa 250-page photo-filled book with step-by-step instructions.

#9 | Logan Paul

Like his brother Jake, Logan returns to this list after a 2017 scandal pushed both siblings. And like Jake, Logan turned to boxing. He had a fight last June against former world champion Floyd Mayweather, which as an exhibition fight had no official winner. As Logan continues to polish his image, he had one of NFT’s first celebrity releases with a $5 million sale last February, while his podcast, impulsivehas generated over 100 million views on YouTube in the past year.

#10 | Preston planting

Preston runs several YouTube channels, but the name of his most popular, PrestonPlayz, says all you really need to know about him: this guy plays a lot of video games, mostly Minecraft. Nearly 12 million people are subscribed to this four-year-old channel, which he’s done a good job of keeping fresh: in one of his most recent videos, he’s built a playable channel Minecraft version of the challenges of squid game.

Justin Birnbaum and Brett Knight contributed reporting.


These estimates measure earnings from January 1 to December 31, 2021, a change from our previous lists, which looked at salaries from June to June of a given year. Figures are before tax; the fees of agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from Captiv8, SocialBlade, and Pollstar as well as interviews with industry insiders.

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