Congrats to the Parents of Ryan, the 9-Year-Old YouTube Multi-Millionaire

Illustration for article titled Congrats to the Parents of Ryan, the 9-Year-Old YouTube Multi-Millionaire
Image: Joe Scarnici (Getty Images)

Over the weekend, Forbes, a business publication known to me for labeling Kylie Jenner a “self-made” billionaire before quickly rescinding the title, published a list of 2020's highest paid YouTubers. All the usual suspects made the cut this year: Jeffree Star, Rhett and Link, Blippi (parents know who I’m talking about), and David Dobrik—a group of almost entirely white creators, with no women or girls, save for the six-year-old Nastya. And atop the list, at the number one spot, was Ryan’s World’s Ryan Kaji, a fourth grader who reportedly ranked in $25.5 million this year on the video platform. Of course, he’s been on the list before, and will continue to be on it for years to come.

Kaji is a nine-year-old famous for unboxing toys and branding himself on over 5,000 products, “everything from bedroom decor and action figures to masks and walkie talkies,” writes to Forbes, and for making an absurd amount of money. It’s also the most effective argument for reproduction I’ve ever heard: should I have a kid and, like, force them into YouTube fame, Hollywood child star-style? I still cautiously watch pregnancy test commercials, surprised that the couple seems to be stoked when they discover a positive test but maybe they, too, have lofty social media ambitious for their future offspring? The scam, it is almost too delicious.

The Guardian approximated that in addition to the $25.5 million made through his Ryan’s World YouTube channel, Kaji brought in “a further estimated $200m from Ryan’s World branded toys and clothing... He also signed an undisclosed, but likely multimillion dollar, deal for his own TV series on Nickelodeon.” Ryan is set for life—and just imagine, with a kid and a ruthless sense of opportunism, any one of us could be, too.

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Here’s the full Forbes list, for those curious:

10. Jeffree Star - $15 million

9. David Dobrik - $15.5 million

8. Blippi - $17 million

7. Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya) - $18.5 million

6. Preston Arsement - $19 million

5. Markiplier - $19.5 million

4. Rhett and Link - $20 million

3. Dude Perfect - $23 million

2. Mr. Beast - $24 million

1. Ryan Kaji - $29.5 million

Eat the rich.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now. It is also very good.

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DISCUSSION

burninginmynetherparts
BurningInMyNetherParts

Ryan is set for life—and just imagine, with a kid and a ruthless sense of opportunism, any one of us could be, too.

Ruthless seems like a bit of a stretch. I’ve had kids for the duration of his Youtube channel, and while we don’t have any Ryan branded toys, his videos play in our house multiple times a week, at least.

They’ve certainly branched out, and the toy branding is a bit much, but their content is surprisingly not all just a series of adverts for Ryan’s branded toys. They still rip out a lot of content that is just them playing games or whatever. They play a lot of the sort of informal games that most families work out amongst themselves.

A part of it why I sort of defend the show is that the parents are sort of the anti-Gosselins. They get along with each other, seem enthusiastic about life and their kids, and don’t seem to have changed as much as the Gosselins did once fame found them. They also don’t play to type either. They strike me as a quirky couple that has retained their quirkyness in spite of having the money to smooth all of that away. You might say “That’s part of the branding” and I’m sure that’s true, but my point is they seem like they have remained who they were when they were just unboxing toys and playing with them when Ryan was small and their girls were toddlers.