MrBeast passes Pewdiepie to become YouTube's new number one guy

MrBeast
(Image credit: Dave Kotinsky (Getty Images))
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The king has finally been dethroned: Pewdiepie, YouTube's problematic fave, is no longer the most-subscribed individual streamer on the platform. The title is now held by Jimmy Donaldson, better known to millions of YouTube viewers as MrBeast.

Both MrBeast (opens in new tab) and Pewdiepie (opens in new tab) maintain massive audiences, but Pewds' subscriber base has been relatively stagnant, while MrBeast's has been climbing rapidly—from 100 million in August to 111 million on November 14, according to Social Blade (opens in new tab) estimates. And sometime during the wee hours of November 15, the subscriber count on his YouTube page ticked over to 112 million, officially putting him past Pewdiepie.

His rapid subscriber growth is no doubt driven in part by his extravagant ways with his audience: He recently gave $500,000 to a guy in exchange for living in a grass circle for 100 days (opens in new tab), for instance, and in August he celebrated 100 million channel subscriptions by having 100 of his subscribers compete for the title to a private island (opens in new tab). His most recent video, posted on November 12, was a private jet giveaway (opens in new tab).

These are major, big-budget productions: In the circle-of-grass video, for instance, MrBeast also gave the contestant a whole-ass house fully stocked with supplies to live in, and then proceeded to demolish it (after numerous other bizarre, expensive stunts) just to make the guy's life more miserable. They're fun to watch, and they also contrast starkly with Pewdiepie's style of video, which basically involves him playing games, talking about whatever comes to his mind at any given moment, and occasionally screaming.

The accession of MrBeast is not necessarily end-of-an-era stuff, because Pewdiepie is still massively popular, but it's hard not to see a changing of the guard here. Pewdiepie is a personality but MrBeast is an event: He's basically a reality television production studio, with enough of a budget to convince people to do stupid (ie, interesting) things on camera. That's occasionally gone sideways: In November 2021, for instance, he was criticized for spending $3.5 million on a real-life recreation of Squid Game (opens in new tab), a Netflix show about the ultra-wealthy preying on the poor—and, more to the point, a critique of economic disparity and the failures of capitalism.

But the other side of that coin is that Squid Game is tremendously successful, and so is MrBeast's video, which a year after it was posted has drawn more than 303.5 million views. Name recognition obviously plays a big part of that success, but so does the simple fact that MrBeast's productions are so much more mainstream and accessible than what Pewdiepie offers. There's no way my mom would watch Pewds holding forth on, well, anything, but she might watch some $60,000 Extreme Hide and Seek—and if she was suitably amused by that experience, the odds are good that she'd stick around for more.

His lavish ways are well-enough known that he was referenced in a recent Scott Seiss video:

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Somewhat unexpectedly, Pewdiepie said in August that he's ready to relinquish the crown. "Come on, I've been retired for like two years now," he said in a Q&A video (opens in new tab), acknowledging that MrBeast "definitely will" surpass his subscriber count. "I can't wait for it to be over ... He definitely deserves it. I hope he does it."

Pewdiepie announced his "retirement" in 2020, but in reality it's been more of a slowdown: He's continued to post videos, and his subscriber count, which according to Dexerto (opens in new tab) was at 107 million at the time, has likewise continued to grow. 

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.