From “unboxing” and reviewing toys and games on YouTube, a nine-year-old boy has earned almost $30m in a year to retain the title of highest-paid YouTuber for the third year running.
Ryan Kaji, from Texas, made $29.5m (£22m) from his Ryan’s World YouTube channel, as well as an estimated $200m more from Ryan’s World branded toys and clothes, including pyjamas from Marks & Spencer. He also signed an undisclosed, but the potentially multimillion-dollar, contract for his own Nickelodeon television series.
Nine YouTube channels are now run by his relatives, who changed their real surname, Guan, to his on-screen surname, Kaji. With 41.7m subscribers and 12.2bn views, Ryan’s World was the most famous. Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge, Kaji’s most famous video, has more than 2 billion views, making it one of the 60 most-viewed YouTube videos ever.
According to Forbes business magazine, which released its study of their projected earnings between June 2019 and June 2020 on Friday, the top 10 biggest-earning YouTube stars took home a total of $211 million in total.
The second was Jimmy Donaldson, better known as Mr Beast, who won an estimated $24 million and was the latest YouTube wealth list entry.
Donaldson, 22, is known for stunts, including ice freezing and distributing large quantities of cash to strangers who participate in his challenges. He also makes money from merchandise sales and deals with brands including Microsoft and Electronic Arts.
1. Ryan Kaji, $29.5m
2. Mr Beast (Jimmy Donaldson), $24m
3. Dude Perfect, $23m: Five mates, Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garret Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney, play stunts with lightsabers, Nerf Weapons and paintballs. Dude Perfect, $23m. The group’s YouTube channel hosted the Quarantine Classic in March when the coronavirus first struck and professional sports were banned, in which they played against each other in three-point basketball shootouts and roller-chair hockey. For the Red Cross and Feeding America, the series of videos raised around $160,000.
4. Rhett and Link, $20m: Some of the longest-standing YouTube stars are Rhett James McLaughlin, 43, and Charles Lincoln, 42, who started out in 2012 as a nerdy talk show.
5. Markiplier, $19.5m: Since 2012, Mark Edward Fischbach has been publishing famous video game breakdowns, including a 31-part series analysing the Cry of Fear of 2013.
6. Preston Arsement, $19m: To help him make videos exploring the pixelated world of Minecraft, Preston has recruited two dozen people.
7. Nastya, $18.5m: Russia’s six-year-old Anastasia Radzinskaya has 191m subscribers to her website, which shows her and her dad playing, doing household chores and explaining viruses with Lego.
8. Blippi, $17m: Stevin John, 32, is the only adult on the list to produce material for children. He stars as Blippi, the childlike, brightly dressed character who educates with videos such as Blippi Visits the Aquarium and Blippi Learn Colors.
9. David Dobrik, $16m: This 24-year-old is famous for his stunts, including pulling a convertible through a car wash and shaving the entire body of another. But Dobrik is trying to move to TikTok with his fans.
10. Jeffrey Lynn Steininger, $15m: A former singer who left the stage to film YouTube makeup tutorials and launched his own line of cosmetics.