Anastasia Radzinskaya, better known as Nastya, has upwards of 100 million subscribers across her 11 YouTube channels, and Forbes reports she made an estimated $28 million in 2021 through ad revenue and brand deals. Viewers follow along as she learns basic skills, like telling time and making a to-do list, against the highly saturated backdrop of her enormous home. Meanwhile, I write my silly little stories in an apartment the size of her patio.
The no. 1 earner was 23-year-old Jimmy Donaldson, known as MrBeast, whose “$456,000 Squid Game In Real Life!” video has racked up 202 million views in less than two months since its release. He reportedly made $54 million. He also spearheaded 2021’s international #TeamSeas fundraiser, which raised more than $30 million to clean up the ocean.
MrBeast staged a massive ‘Squid Game’ set replica to recreate the hit Netflix drama. Credit: YouTube.com/MrBeast
Also on the list is 10-year-old toy king Ryan Kaji, controversial brothers Jake and Logan Paul, variety show pros Rhett and Link, trick shot magicians Dude Perfect, and gamers Preston Plays and Markiplier, who has made the list every year since 2016. The only newcomer to the top 10 is Unspeakable, who makes less expensive MrBeast-esque challenges like “Last to Leave the Pond wins $10,000.”
Forbes notes that the top three earners — MrBeast, Jake Paul, and Markiplier — all made enough that they would have nabbed a spot on the brand’s most recent list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities. It makes you wonder: what will it take for YouTube creators to be considered mainstream celebs? Paul makes 90 percent of his income from boxing, and rarely posts on YouTube anymore. Boxers like Tyson Fury and Canelo Alvarez made the celebrity list, so why not Paul?
It’s also hard to ignore the overwhelming number of white men on the list (Dude Perfect alone has five), a trend we’ve seen every year since Forbes started tracking these statistics. The last time a woman other than Nastya made the list was in 2017, when Lilly Singh clenched the no. 10 spot. In 2018, there weren’t any women on the list at all.