YouTube genius and 21st century philanthropist Jimmy Donaldson, otherwise known as MrBeast, has surpassed Felix Kjellberg, known as Pewdiepie, as the most-subscribed YouTube creator ever. According to Dexerto, Donaldson sailed past Kjellberg’s 111,846,079 subscribers just after 4 p.m. EST on Nov. 14.
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It’s the end of Kjellberg’s incredible, unmatched dominance on the platform. Despite a history of public admonishments from both YouTube and the media over the use of racist language and antisemitic jokes, Kjellberg has been the most-subscribed creator on YouTube since August 2013. He was the most subscribed channel on YouTube until 2018, when Bollywood production behemoth T-Series surpassed him.
Donaldson and Kjellberg have been contemporaries and friends for several years. In 2018, Donaldson poured thousands of dollars into a marketing blitz in support of the “subscribe to Pewdiepie” campaign, a highly publicized run off between Kjellberg and T-Series for the title of top-subscribed channel on YouTube.
T-Series’s triumph signaled a sea change for YouTube as individual and independent creators were dwarfed by brands. A handful of brands, including T-Series at 229 million and kids channel Cocomelon at 147 million, now have more subscribers than Donaldson and Kjellberg.
In recent years, Donaldson’s MrBeast channel has seen explosive growth, thanks to his obsessive optimization of YouTube’s algorithm, philanthropic approach to viral content, and gamified video concepts. He has also opened a successful global ghost kitchen burger brand and snack line, all while making millions that he claims to reinvest in his channel.
Kjellberg began as a gaming creator, posting “let’s play” videos that documented both his gameplay and his reactions. His sense of humor and outsized physical responses to losses and jump scares grew him a loyal following he referred to as his “bros.” Kjellberg has since backed away from gaming and leaned into commentary and comedy. In the past two years, he has committed to posting more unstructured content, like vlogs, and has called the period his “retirement.”
In a video from August, a viewer asked Kjellberg if he thought that Donaldson would surpass his subscriber count. Kjellberg smiled. “He definitely will. Come on, I’ve been retired for two years now. I can’t wait for it to be over,” he admitted, “He definitely deserves it, I hope he does it.”