YouTube’s highest paid stars have been revealed, with a 23-year-old creator who earned £39m in 2021 topping the list.
The platform is increasingly lucrative for content creators, with the highest-paid stars collectively earning £219m last year, up from 40% a year earlier.
Forbes YouTube Rich List has revealed that MrBeast – real name Jimmy Donaldson – scored the biggest payday in 2021. That’s almost double what last year’s number one Ryan Kaji, 10 , made in 2020.
Last year, MrBeast spent 50 hours buried alive, offered £7,300 to anyone who wanted to sit in a tub of snakes and hosted his own version of Squid Games, including building replica sets from the issue with a cash prize of £333,000.
The YouTuber has also branched out to MrBeast burger, an app and menu that lets fans order branded meals from 1,600 restaurants across the US – and so far has sold over five million of sandwiches.
Brothers Jake and Logan Paul returned to the list this year, with the former taking second place.
The highest paid YouTubers in 2021
1. MrBeast – £39.5m
2. Jake Paul – £33m
3. Markiplier – £28m
4. Rhett & Link – £22m
5. Unspeakable – £20.8m
6. Like Nastya – £20.4m
7. Ryan Kaji (Ryan’s World) – £19.7m
8. Perfect Dude – £14.6m
9. Logan Paul – £13m
10. Preston – £11.7m
The pair were among YouTube’s biggest names until Logan posted a video in December 2017 filmed in a Japanese forest, notorious as a suicide location. The resulting backlash affected both of their channels: sponsors severed ties and YouTube demonetized their content.
The pair can now earn YouTube ads again, but Jake – who posts less often than before – now uses the site largely as a way to market his boxing career.
Two children made the top ten, Natasha, seven, earning £20.4million. Nastya, who immigrated from Russia with her parents, struck a deal with a company called Spotter, selling the rights to her old YouTube videos while retaining the rights to any new content she posts.
Her top hits of 2021 included videos about decorating Halloween cupcakes and hanging out with best friends.
Ryan Kaji, who started on the platform as a four-year-old examining and playing with toys, rose from first place to seventh, earning £19.7million.
Among those helping him run his business is former Disney executive Chris Williams. The youngster maintains 31 million subscribers and a range of branded products and toys.
The list has been compiled using estimates measuring revenue from January 1 to December 31, 2021 and figures are pre-tax – agent, manager and attorney fees have not been deducted. Estimates were based on data from Captiv8, SocialBlade, Pollstar, and interviews with industry insiders.