This week brought the news that YouTuber Jimmy 'MrBeast' Donaldson has launched legal action against his own brand of burgers, described in the filing as being delivered to customers in a "raw", "revolting", and "inedible" state, among many other things. The company behind MrBeast Burger, Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC), has now responded to the suit and accused the star of "bullying tactics" and a "meritless" case.
VDC provided a statement to the Daily Mail, in which it says "the complaint is riddled with false statements and inaccuracies and is a thinly-veiled attempt to distract from Mr. Donaldson’s and Beast Investments’ breaches of the agreements between the parties."
It describes the suit's various claims as "false, disparaging statements" and says the real story here is that MrBeast wanted a bigger piece of the pie and, when he didn't get it, ordered his lawyers to go beast mode.
"Mr. Donaldson recently attempted to negotiate a new deal to serve his own monetary interests," said VDC's statement. "When VDC refused to accede to his bullying tactics to give up more of the company to him, he filed this ill-advised and meritless lawsuit seeking to undermine the MrBeast Burger brand and terminate his existing contractual obligations without cause."
Notably, MrBeast's suit makes the somewhat extraordinary claim that Donaldson hasn't received "a dime" from the hugely popular business venture, despite over 1,000 restaurants in the US alone offering the product. The reality of that will obviously come out in court. But the main theme of the suit is reputational damage to the MrBeast brand more widely through what the YouTuber claims is a bad product.
VDC makes a wild claim here, saying that MrBeast's profile over recent years has benefitted hugely from MrBeast Burger: "Mr. Donaldson’s notoriety has grown exponentially over the life of the MrBeast Burger brand, in part because of the MrBeast Burger brand itself."
That seems a considerable stretch. MrBeast has been streaming since 2012, and first achieved viral fame in 2017. Since then he's produced hit after hit and, love him or loathe him, no-one can deny that this guy knows how to attract a large audience. Indeed the whole reason the MrBeast Burger concept worked is because for whatever reason a lot of people have a positive reaction to him.
Last month saw MrBeast announce that he was "moving on from MrBeast Burger" and partner restaurants would all be ceasing operations, in a series of tweets which have now been deleted. At the time he cited quality control as a factor and said he was focusing on his new snack range Feastables. The MrBeast Burger website remains open, however, and the burgers are still being sold. MrBeast's suit asks the court, among other things, to shut down MrBeast Burger.
"We had hoped Mr. Donaldson would act honorably," said VDC's statement. "Instead, having elevated greed over his word and the truth, he will face the consequences in court when VDC files its claims against him.
"In the meantime, it is business as usual for MrBeast Burger [...] VDC looks forward to being vindicated in court."
I've contacted MrBeast's representatives for comment, and will update with any response.