Fortnite streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins is what's known in the business as an "influencer." But he's more than just your average, run-of-the-mill guy on YouTube: According to Time, he stands with Brie Larson, The Rock, Nancy Pelosi, Jair Bolsonaro, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Pope as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2019.
Ninja's two-paragraph profile was written by JuJu Smith-Schuster, a pro football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers who's also something of a Fortnite fan. In fact, he was part of the Drake/Ninja squad that crushed Twitch's viewer record last year.
An honor to write @Ninja’s @TIME 100 piece on being one of the 100 most influential people today! A true GOAT! https://t.co/3dwxsvCzOFApril 17, 2019
"I play in the NFL, so you’d think I wouldn’t be star-struck much. But last March, when I—along with Drake and Travis Scott—got in a Fortnite game with Ninja for the first time, I was at a complete loss for words!" the quite clearly star-struck Smith-Schuster wrote. "I was among the millions of people all across the world who had been watching Ninja (real name: Tyler Blevins) play Fortnite, the popular videogame, every day for months. He was the unquestioned best in the world at his craft, something I had so much respect for both as an athlete and as a fan. Now, he was single-handedly blending gaming and pop culture."
"I’ve been a huge video-game fanatic my whole life. But people have seen it as childish and a waste of time. Ninja was huge in building up the credibility of e-sports. At the end of the day, Ninja is an absolute legend, and someone to whom we owe a lot for making gaming what it is today."
It's a little hyperbolic, but it's also true. Ninja has been a pro gamer and streamer for years but his career took off when he began streaming Fortnite regularly in 2017, and since then he has gone extremely mainstream: He's appeared on Ellen and Jimmy Fallon, was chosen as a "cover athlete" for ESPN Magazine, and hosted his own New Year's Eve livestream from Times Square.