The highest-paid YouTube stars have been revealed, with a 23-year-old creator who earned £39m in 2021 topping the list.
The platform is increasingly profitable for content creators, with the highest-paid stars collectively earning £219m last year – up from 40% the year before.
YouTube’s Forbes Rich List found that MrBeast – real name Jimmy Donaldson – posted the biggest profit in 2021. That’s nearly double what last year’s No. 1 Ryan Kaji made in 2020.
Last year MrBeast spent 50 hours buried alive, offering £7,300 to anyone willing to sit in a bathtub of snakes, and hosting his own version of Squid Games, including building replicas of the show’s sets with a cash prize of £333,000 .
The YouTuber has also expanded into MrBeast burger, an app and menu that allows fans to order branded meals from 1,600 restaurants across the United States—and has so far sold more than five million sandwiches.
Brothers Jake and Logan Paul are back on the list this year, with the former taking second place.
Highest-paid YouTubers in 2021
1. MrBeast – £39.5 million
2. Jake Paul – 33 million pounds
3. Markiplier – £28 million
4. Rhett & Link – £22 million
5. Untold – £20.8 million
6. Like Nastya – £20.4 million
7. Ryan Kaji (Ryan’s World) – 19.7 million pounds
8. Dude Perfect – £14.6 million
9- Logan Paul – 13 million pounds
10. Preston – 11.7 million pounds
The couple were some of the biggest names on YouTube until Logan posted a video in December 2017 filmed in a Japanese forest, notorious as a suicide point. The resulting backlash affected their channel both – sponsors cut their links and YouTube demonized their content.
The pair can now re-earn money from YouTube ads, but Jake – who posts less than he did before – is now using the site largely as a way to market his boxing career.
Two kids made it to the top ten, with seven-year-old Natasha earning £20.4 million. Nastya, who emigrated from Russia with her parents, struck a deal with a company called Spotter, where she sold the rights to her old YouTube videos while retaining the rights to any new content she posted.
Her best songs from 2021 included videos about decorating Halloween cakes and spending time with her best friends.
Ryan Kaji, who started on the podium as a four-year-old in review and play, slipped from first to seventh, earning £19.7 million.
Among those who helped run his business was former Disney CEO Chris Williams. The young man holds 31 million subscribers and a set of branded merchandise and toys.
The list has been compiled using estimates that measured profits from January 1 to December 31, 2021 and figures before taxes – no deductible fees for agents, directors and attorneys. Estimates were based on data from Captiv8, SocialBlade, Pollstar, and interviews with industry insiders.