With over 262 million subscribers, YouTuber MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is one of the world’s most popular creators.  His first viral video was just him counting to 100,000 in 40 hours and it earned him millions of viewers. As his audience grew, he piqued the interest of sponsors who paid him to create videos. After giving away his first sponsorship money, Donaldson set up Beast Philanthropy to help people from all over the world. The famous YouTuber’s philanthropy efforts and social media success have sparked discussions — some people praised him, and others think he is exploiting vulnerable communities, creating the MrBeast controversy.

At Business2Community, we’ve reviewed all the major controversies Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, has faced, including the sincerity of his philanthropy efforts, ethics, and toxic workplace allegations. To do this, we referred to news articles, social media posts, podcasts, and other public records, so you can understand his missteps and learn how to do better for your brand.

Mr Beast Controversy – Key Facts

  • YouTuber MrBeast’s 2023 video on building 100 wells in Africa to provide clean water faced criticism for being “ethical predation.”
  • Many of his other charity and philanthropy videos received backlash, as some people see it as exploiting vulnerable communities.
  • Whether MrBeast is honest is also a controversial topic, as fellow influencer Rosanna Pansino accused MrBeast of lying in his videos in 2023.

Creator Games Controversy: MrBeast Accused of Lying

In late 2021, MrBeast released Creator Games 3, a tournament where YouTube’s top influencers competed in various games to win $1,000,000. One of the contestants was Rosanna Pansino, an influencer known for her baking videos on YouTube.

Nearly two years after Creator Games 3 was released, Pansino spoke about her experience in the Just Trish Podcast. She said that MrBeast edited her out of some scenes in contests when she was actually in the top 3.

“I stopped watching MrBeast’s content because he always [in interviews] says the thing about him is he keeps it real, like he really gives away these cars, he really gives away all this money, it’s real. But it wasn’t real, I was in the top three and he edited it to be all men,” she continued.

Pansino shared a public statement on X and leaked her DMs with MrBeast. She then apologized for not handling the matter privately, and deleted all her tweets related to the Creator Games, mentioning that she received death threats.

Consequence: Fans and Other Creators Took Sides

Rosanna Pansino’s accusations led to a public dispute, with fans and fellow creators taking sides. NerdEcrafter, a DIY crafting YouTuber tweeted about having an uncomfortable experience with MrBeast due to his “boys club mentality”.

Another user said Rosanna Pansino was too nice to wrongly call out on others, which showed the trust Pansino built with her audience.

Some people thought Pansino was looking for attention, as she did not immediately speak up about the topic.

Philanthropy Controversy: Construction of 100 Wells in Africa

In addition to being one of the world’s most popular YouTubers, MrBeast is a philanthropist, who documents his charity work on his channel.

In November 2023, the YouTuber shared a video titled I Built 100 Wells In Africa, aiming to provide clean drinking water to 300,000-500,000 people across several African countries, including Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Known as the Water is Life project, the campaign operates under Beast Philanthropy, the YouTuber’s philanthropy network. As of May 2024, the campaign had received over $900,000 in donations, which were directed to local water assistance organizations.

Screenshot of MrBeast's Water is Life project aiming to provide around half a million people fresh water

MrBeast anticipated that the video would attract backlash, as he tweeted “I already know I’m gonna get canceled because I uploaded a video helping people, and to be 100% clear, I don’t care. I’m always going to use my channel to help people and try to inspire my audience to do the same,” on the same day he uploaded the YouTube video.

While many praised the initiative, some people criticized it as a form of “ethical predation”, accusing the YouTuber of using poverty as a way to gain more views and make money.

Some Kenyan activists and journalists said they appreciated what MrBeast did, but drew attention to a bigger problem related to the Kenyan government.

“Could you direct that anger towards your elected leaders? It’s embarrassing that a YouTuber jetted into Kenya on a charity tour to perform tasks our taxes should have completed ages ago,” wrote journalist Ferdinand Omondi.

Consequence: Mixed Opinions on the Effectiveness of Philanthropy

As he anticipated, MrBeast received criticism for monetizing charity work.

Some critics said MrBeast’s project gave the wrong ideas and encouraged stereotypes related to Africa. Dr. Tumenta Kennedy, a senior economist and investment analyst, said MrBeast’s project was an insult to Africa, giving an image that the continent was not capable of providing wells for itself.

In an interview with CNN, Saran Kaba Jones, founder and CEO of FACE Africa, an organization working to provide water infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, said she had been working on the issue for 15 years, but there was a lack of funding and awareness.

“Overnight, this person comes along, who happens to be a white male figure with a huge platform, and all of a sudden, he gets all of the attention,” she said.

In a later Instagram post, Jones congratulated MrBeast for raising awareness while highlighting the importance of maintaining the wells once the cameras have left.


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A post shared by saran kaba jones (@sarankjones)

“Inspiration Porn” Controversies: Helping People on Camera

Although he got his big break with stunt videos, MrBeast gradually made philanthropy a part of his brand. In 2023, he released two videos, titled 1,000 Blind People See For The First Time and 1,000 Deaf People Hear For The First Time, in which he paid for cataract surgeries and hearing aids.

Critics accused him of creating “inspiration porn”, a term describing the objectification of disabled people to make non-disabled people feel inspired. An opinion article published in The Independent stated that MrBeast’s hearing aid video promoted misconceptions, as hearing aids do not cure deafness.

The article also criticized MrBeast for being out of touch with disability, referencing a moment in the video where he asked a deaf person if “hearing or 10 grand” would be better news for them.

The Independent article criticizing MrBeast's hearing aid video

Consequence: Criticism for Filming and Exploiting People

While a lot of people praised MrBeast for helping others, he received a backlash for the way he has done it.

“What you may not realize is that they cannot receive the free hearing aids if they don’t agree to having their reactions filmed. But they cannot afford to buy them on their own. Therefore, they agree to it,” wrote an X user, saying MrBeast exploited disabled people.

“MrBeast doesn’t care, he’s all about his brand. He’ll never discuss the social disparity in healthcare, justice, education, and more. He pushes inspiration porn. He studied the algorithms and knows what makes people tick,” he continued.

Homophobia and Racism Accusations

MrBeast has faced accusations of homophobia and racism due to his past videos. In 2018, after he went viral, the Atlantic analyzed his past videos in which he used homophobic slurs.

“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,” said a representative at one of MrBeast’s companies to the New York Times.

Consequence: Past Videos Becoming Relevant Once He Became a Public Figure

MrBeast is more careful with his content now that he has millions of subscribers. However, his previous actions have resurfaced years later, showing how past content can have long-lasting effects, especially on public figures.

MrBeast’s recreation of the popular Netflix series Squid Game involved a significant financial investment of $3.5 million. It is among his most-viewed YouTube videos, with over 600 million views and 17 million likes.

However, some people criticized MrBeast for being tone-deaf, as the show touched on sensitive topics such as economic disparity, where people in financial hardship risked their lives to win the big prize.

Consequence: Mixed Reactions from Social Media Users

The video’s success and popularity have brought controversy. While many people commented they enjoyed the video, others publicly expressed that they found it inappropriate.


House Controversy: MrBeast Buying Out an Entire Street for His Employees

The New York Post reported that MrBeast bought an entire street in North Carolina to house his staff and family. This move drew criticism from some who labeled it as “culty”, while others saw it as a way of employers controlling employees’ private lives. However, many of these comments were drowned out by fans arguing that giving your employees free housing is not a bad thing.

MrBeast responded to the criticisms, saying only he could get canceled for giving people a house.

Consequence: Debates Over Workplace Ethics

MrBeast buying houses for his employees sparked broader discussions about employee-employer relations and workplace culture. These discussions continued when he was listed as one of the most influential people of 2023 by Time Magazine.

As a part of the Most Influential People project, Time interviewed both MrBeast and his employees. Several former employees described working for MrBeast as toxic, due to the high pressure, lack of safety measures for stunt videos, and no job security.

Virtual Dining Concepts Controversy: MrBeast Sues Virtual Dining Concepts

In late 2020, MrBeast launched MrBeast Burger in collaboration with the restaurant brand Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC). Although the restaurant quickly expanded in the US, it got bad reviews from customers.

In 2023, MrBeast sued VDC to terminate the partnership, saying it harmed MrBeast’s brand as the company failed to serve good-quality burgers.

Consequence: Virtual Dining Concepts Countersues MrBeast

Virtual Dining Concepts countersued MrBeast for $100 million for failing to meet his contractual obligations. “This case is about a social media celebrity who believes his fame means that his word does not matter, that the facts do not matter, and that he can renege and breach his contractual obligations without consequence. He is mistaken,” stated VDC’s lawsuit.

What Can We Learn From the MrBeast Controversies?

When you have a significant impact and a large following, there are inevitable consequences. MrBeast’s example illustrates this very well. He gets both praise and criticism, even when he uses his platform to donate money, help others, and set fundraisers.

As entrepreneurs become more well-known, their responsibilities increase. Past comments may resurface, as they did with MrBeast’s homophobic slurs as a teenager or Rosanna Pansino’s transparency accusations of MrBeast. In such cases, it is important to remain accountable and know when to apologize.

Exponential growth in a business can be a challenge to manage, whether you’re a famous YouTuber or a more traditional business. From the beginning of your business, have your values and beliefs clear – these will be your guiding light when some members of the public take exception to your actions.


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