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MrBeast: Overcoming Criticism to Always Come Out on Top

MrBeast: Overcoming Criticism to Always Come Out on Top


MrBeast is YouTube’s biggest creator, and he’s constantly dodging criticism.
Steven Kahn

  • MrBeast’s generosity and authenticity have built him a loyal audience of 295 million.
  • But he still receives backlash for being a “white savior” or for some of his stunts being disturbing.
  • Experts believe he’ll always come out on top, though.

A mother’s request on X on June 24 ended with her young daughter meeting her hero: MrBeast.

The YouTuber, who is the biggest creator on the platform, answered Tamara Jawad Shami’s request to meet her daughter, who was in palliative care in Sydney.

“Here is the good side of social media,” Shami wrote on X, along with a picture of her little girl and the YouTube star. “Thank you kind-hearted people who shared this and made a little girl’s dream come true.”

Fans seem to come first in MrBeast’s world, and this was just one example. The YouTuber boasts 295 million subscribers and has built his empire largely through philanthropy.

He helped pioneer a genre of social media videos that focus on filming the reactions of strangers after giving them large sums of money.

As well as giving away cash, he has funded surgeries and built homes for people around the world by investing everything he makes through ad revenue and brand deals back into his content.

According to an interview with Time magazine in February, MrBeast brings in about $600 million to $700 million a year in revenue. But he claims he isn’t rich.

“I’m not naive; maybe one day,” he told the publication. “But right now, whatever we make, we reinvest.”

“Each video does a couple million in ad revenue, a couple million in brand deals,” he added. “I’ve reinvested everything to the point of—you could claim—stupidity, just believing that we would succeed. And it’s worked out.”

Critics are tough on him, though, likening his efforts to being a “white savior” and claiming his charitable endeavors are an example of “stunt philanthropy,” where views and fame are prioritized over genuine altruism.

Some have compared his social experiments, where he has people living in grocery stores or isolation chambers to win money, to the horror series “Saw.”

A video in which he approached two kids in a store and asked them to choose between “$1 dollar or [a] mystery gift,” was described as cruel by critics after the mystery gift turned out to be a dollar bill.

He’s also come under fire for a less-than-ideal work culture and health and safety measures. According to Time, who spoke to a dozen former MrBeast employees, the company’s attention to detail was lacking when it came to adhering to safety norms on stunts.

Donaldson hasn’t responded to these specific allegations, but a spokesperson told Time his company was “OSHA-compliant,” referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and “safety is incredibly important and taken very seriously.” They also said medics and “experienced professionals” were on set at all times.

MrBeast occasionally responds to other criticism, suggesting he knows people who dislike him will never be happy.

In a recent X post, he mentioned his efforts in curing 1,000 blind people and building 100 houses and wells in impoverished villages.

“People get mad and say I shouldn’t be doing this and governments should,” he said. “Yes, ideally, a YouTuber isn’t the one fixing these issues, but I’m not just going to stand by and do nothing.”

But despite the constant disapproval, MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, will always come out on top, experts in the creator economy say.

The key ingredients to his success appear to be his generosity and authenticity.

Cristy Stewart-Harfmann, a content creator and a professor of digital marketing at Florida Atlantic University, told Business Insider Donaldson thrives “due to his authentic connection with his audience, unmatched generosity, and innovative content.”

“His ability to engage viewers with heartfelt interactions and philanthropic efforts, such as massive giveaways and environmental campaigns, fosters a loyal community that values his genuine intentions,” she said.

He also shows resilience when addressing the backlash, Stewart-Harfmann added, which shows his “transparency and humility” and further solidifies his credibility.

Stewart-Harfmann said Donaldson’s social circle also influences his perception. He has a group of buddies who have been with him every step of the way.

This combination of authenticity, innovation, and resilience means Donaldson continually overcomes what is thrown his way, Stewart-Harfmann said, “winning over fans and onlookers.”


MrBeast’s empire is only growing.
Don Arnold/Getty Images

Corben Sharp, a videographer and influencer content expert, told BI Donaldson’s “anything is possible” attitude also wins people over.

He’s also not flashy and “looks like your average Joe,” Sharp said.

“He’s shy when given compliments, his ego is in check, and I think that makes people recognize him as a good person,” he said.

Donaldson said in a recent interview that YouTube runs through his veins. And that comes across.

“Everything he does is for the entertainment of people,” Sharp said.

Donaldson’s production value is also difficult to argue with.

Madison Breuer, a public relations account executive at Riester Advertising Agency with experience in influencer marketing, told BI Donaldson’s videos look like “mini-movies.”

“His content often mirrors the excitement and rewards found in reality TV competitions, which keeps viewers hooked,” she said.

“This successful formula has been replicated by many other creators, making it a constant battle for him to stay relevant and creative,” Breuer added. “However, his substantial financial resources allow him to create content on a scale that others can’t match.”

Noah Lydiard, founder and CEO of the creative agency Conductor, told BI that if attention were currency, “MrBeast would be the Jeff Bezos of the digital age, turning every click into a goldmine of engagement.”

He added that content creation is an art, and Donaldson has mastered it by mixing “surprise elements, high tension, and strong emotional moments.”

Lydiard said what’s most engaging about Donaldson is how many people can see themselves in him. Donaldson’s platform may be huge, but creators and viewers are on his side.

When Donaldson overtook T-Series to snatch the title of YouTube’s biggest channel in June, it was a win for independent creators.

“He was just a person who began with only a camera and big dreams, but now he is one of the biggest stars online,” Lydiard said.

“His journey from a small-town YouTuber to worldwide fame is the perfect underdog story, inspiring millions of watchers to follow their own dreams.”

Source: Business Insider, Time magazine