Mr. Donaldson declined to be interviewed. A consultant for him declined to handle the working situations at his firms however mentioned of the movies with offensive content material: “When Jimmy was a teenager and was first starting out, he carelessly used, on more than one occasion, a gay slur. Jimmy knows there is no excuse for homophobic rhetoric.” The consultant added that Mr. Donaldson “has grown up and matured into someone that doesn’t speak like that.”

Many youthful creators mentioned they wished to emulate Mr. Donaldson’s entrepreneurial path.

“I think Mr. Beast inspires all of Gen Z,” mentioned Josh Richards, 19, a TikTookay creator in Los Angeles with almost 25 million followers. “He’s giving a lot of kids a new path to take, to teach these young kids on how to be entrepreneurial, not just to get a lot of views or become famous.”

Like many members of Generation Z, Mr. Donaldson, who grew up in Greenville, N.C., based a YouTube channel when he was in center college, again in 2012.

To crack YouTube’s advice algorithm, he initially cycled by means of totally different genres of video making. He posted movies of himself taking part in video games like Call of Duty, commented on YouTube drama, uploaded humorous video compilations and livestreamed himself reacting to movies on the web.

Then in 2018, he mastered the format that will make him a star: stunt philanthropy. Mr. Donaldson filmed himself making a gift of hundreds of {dollars} in money to random folks, together with his Uber driver or folks experiencing homelessness, capturing their shock and pleasure in the course of. The cash initially got here largely from model sponsorships.

It turned out to be an ideal viral recipe that blended cash, a larger-than-life persona and healthful reactions. Millions started watching his YouTube movies. Mr. Donaldson quickly rebranded himself as “YouTube’s biggest philanthropist.”

The mixture was additionally profitable. Though Mr. Donaldson gave away more and more giant quantities — from $100,000 to $1 million — he made all of it again and extra with the promoting that ran alongside the movies. He additionally offered merchandise like socks ($18), water bottles ($27) and T-shirts ($28).



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