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.

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.

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.



Ugh. We’ve been here already with yesteryear’s child stars from the movie industry, none of whom appeared to survive unscathed (if at all) and I’m feeling worried and depressed already for all the YouTube kids who could become a next generation of f***ed up adults. No amount of money is worth that. Absolutely none.

Also, I hate charts like these, because “biggest earning” never equals “best” and that perhaps applies tenfold to the most talented YouTubers who are battling the algorithm more than anything else.