Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Not all of my adventures finish spectacularly or successfully. This past Sunday, September 4, celebrity YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, who is often known by his channel name “Mr. Beast,” opened up a brand new non-kosher restaurant called “MrBeast Burger” at the American Dream mall. Not only that, but Mr. Beast and his dynamic crew consisting of Karl Jacobs, Nolan Hansen and Nicholas “Snapnap” actually showed up at the mall to help manage the joint and meet with admiring fans. My brother Gabe and I, alongside well over 15,000 people, flooded the mall to either try the food or in my case, to meet the legendary Mr. Beast.

Currently, Jimmy Donaldson has over 104 million subscribers on YouTube, roughly 7 million behind PewDiePie, for the most subscribers in the world by a solo creator. Jimmy is frequently credited with pioneering a new genre of YouTube videos known as “expensive stunts.” Last year, after the popularity of the Korean Netflix show “Squid Game,” Mr. Beast and his team recreated the show with real live people. He featured 456 people, mimicking the games and sets from the show, and offered a cash prize of $456,000 to the winning participant. In the Netflix show, the eliminated participants are executed (!). In this case, Jimmy created powder packs that exploded once a player was eliminated. The 25-minute video was one of the most-watched videos of 2021 with nearly 300 million views.

What is remarkable about Mr. Beast is the fact that he has achieved so much success, despite the fact that he is a mere 24 years old, only two months older than I am! But Jimmy did not find success instantaneously. His original contest was much simpler and inexpensive. He first got involved with YouTube when he was 13, mostly recording livestreams of himself playing online games such as Minecraft or Call of Duty. As he got older, Jimmy’s creativity and determination to grow his channel increased. In one video made over five years ago, Jimmy spent more than 40 hours counting to 100,000 … straight! (The video was sped up to keep it right under 24 hours.) In another, he read the longest English word, which is 190,000 characters, in approximately two hours.

These videos began to expand Jimmy’s popularity, and consequently, he began earning money from YouTube. All of the money he earned was put right back into his channel. In October 2017, he broke the world record by paying for the longest Uber trip, traveling 2,256 miles from North Carolina to California in 39 hours.

Mr. Beast’s most popular videos involve giving people what everyone wants: A LOT of money. Jimmy first filmed himself giving $10,000 in cash to a homeless person. The video garnered a lot of views, so he kept upping his game. Jimmy would tip Uber drivers and pizza delivery guys thousands of dollars. Later, Mr. Beast would give $100,000 to people on the spot if they would quit their job. In other videos, he would take people to Walmart or a different store, hand them a credit card with unlimited credit and tell them that they had five minutes to fill up the card with as much expensive merchandise as they could purchase. For the first few years, Jimmy lost money with these inane tactics. But he kept at it, and his persistence paid off with his present estimated net worth being over $25 million.

Nowadays, Jimmy’s videos have gotten even more lucrative. Mr. Beast likes to do expensive competitions such as the real-life Squid Game. He once bought an island and hosted a survivor event, giving the winner the entire island as the grand prize. Recently, he created a contest in which he gave out $10,000 to 100 people on the condition that they played hide-and-seek at the American Dream mall. Contestants hid anywhere in the mall, and those who weren’t found within a certain time frame got to keep their money.

I follow Jimmy on Twitter (@MrBeast) and recently saw his post stating that he would be opening a MrBeast Burger restaurant in the nearby American Dream. Gabe and I have been following Mr. Beast for a few years, and we both wanted to meet him. American Dream opens at 11 a.m. each day, so we figured that if we arrived at 7:30 a.m., we should have ample time to be among the first people to meet Mr. Beast.

After davening and getting breakfast at Bagel Boss, we drove to the mall. The parking lot was mostly empty, and we found a great spot on the third level in Parking Lot A near the restaurant. Everything was going smoothly until we got inside. The place was packed with people! We saw a lot of people on folding chairs, in sleeping bags, and even on portable couches, many of whom had camped out the previous night. Gabe quickly became pessimistic and advised that we leave. I told him that we should at least try to find the start of the line and see what happened.

We walked around for a few minutes until we found a line on the second level. We learned that being on that line would give us access to getting a yellow wristband, a necessity to meet Mr. Beast once he arrived. We also filled out a form and got a confirmation email that included a 20% coupon at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. We asked the employee who gave us the band how many people were already waiting at the mall, and she responded, “Over 2,000 people!”

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had scheduled our fantasy football league draft party to be at my parents’ house at 1 p.m. for that day. I did some quick math and realized that with the mall not opening until 11a.m., and with so many people already ahead of us, there was no chance that I would make it back in time for the party. So Gabe and I took a quick picture by the MrBeast Burger sign, posted it on my WhatsApp status and left the mall. When we got home, I took off the band and took a nap.

At around 11:30 a.m., I awoke to messages from my friend Tzvi who shared the news that he was at the mall where it was an absolute madhouse! He explained that very few people had been able to obtain a band and that the lines were hours long to get the few remaining ones. He added that anyone with the yellow wristband was guaranteed to meet Mr. Beast. I told Tzvi that after my draft, he could come over and I would let him use Gabe’s band while I would wear mine. I taped my band back together and put it back on my wrist.

Once the fantasy draft was over, Tzvi picked me up and we headed for the mall. The drive was easy, taking only 20 minutes, but our attempts at getting into the very crowded parking lot and finding a vacant spot cost us an additional 20 minutes. We saw a group of teenagers walking out of the mall wearing yellow bands and asked them if they had met Mr. Beast. They told us that not only did they meet him, but they won $10,000 each from a Mr. Beast competition that day where they had to huddle and hug in a circle against other teams for as long as possible without letting go. I was blown away and congratulated them on their winnings. I inquired how they had gotten selected, and they said because they had camped out at the mall for two days and were among the first people on line, they got to partake in the challenge.

Tzvi and I hurried into the mall to find the line to meet Mr. Beast. After about 30 minutes of looking, we found a security guard who told us that since my wristband identification number was very low because I had arrived so early in the morning, he was going to let us through to enter MrBeast Burger where Jimmy was! Unfortunately, he saw that my band had been ripped off, and although the numbers were legible, since it was possible I got it from someone who had already met Mr. Beast on their way out, I was not allowed through.

Of course, I wish I could go back in time and never have ripped my band off, but I hadn’t known how valuable the band was. I foolishly believed that since I had filled out the form, my name was in the system. I didn’t realize then that my yellow band with a low number would have allowed me to skip so much of the line.

Still, it was remarkable to see thousands of people in one area all for the opportunity of meeting one special guy. The line wrapped around much of the mall, creating a truly unbelievable sight to behold. Later, Mr. Beast posted on his Twitter that MrBeast Burger broke the record for the most burgers sold in a day by a single restaurant.

A lot of people who saw my WhatsApp status asked me what the big deal is about meeting Mr. Beast. It is a good question, since he is just a 24-year-old YouTuber, and it is kind of crazy to spend so many hours in line to meet one individual. I think that everyone at the mall that day had their own interior motive for why they chose to be there. Some might have viewed the opportunity as if it were a lottery ticket, hoping that Mr. Beast might give them cash, as he does in his YouTube videos (and to those teens I met). Others perhaps find Mr. Beast to be a really cool celebrity and wanted a photo opportunity with him to show their friends and family.

Personally, I find myself in the latter group. I wanted a picture with him, to be able to post on social media, and to include in a future photo album. More than that, I think Mr. Beast might be one of the most talented, creative and special people on the planet. He dropped out of college to pursue his passion for creating good, wholesome content on YouTube with the goal of making people’s lives better. I don’t know Jimmy directly, but I am sure that many people along the way to stardom told him how he was being foolish, that he will never eke out a living from YouTube videos, and that he should give up and get a normal job.

Jimmy is no quitter, though. If you watch his early videos, you can tell that he is a bit shy and reserved and not as outspoken as one would expect. Over the years, his confidence and speaking ability have improved immensely, his face radiating joy with every word spoken in his videos.

Jimmy’s videos are all about making people happy. Whether giving people money, a new car, a full house, paying off their student debt or cleaning trash off the world’s dirtiest beach, Mr. Beast is a man of the people. If we take a look at this past Sunday, we can see that he spent all day smiling, grilling burgers and posing for pictures with thousands of people who came to meet him. I might not have been lucky enough to meet him, but I was privileged to see firsthand the positive impact that he is having on millions of people around the world.

Remember, Jimmy is just 24. There is no telling what he will do in the next 10 years. With the rate his YouTube channel is growing, he will most likely have a billion subscribers within the next decade. Mark my words—this guy will run for president—and most likely will win, in 2036. I hope sometime in the future I will get the chance to meet Mr. Beast, get a picture with him, and tell him how much of an inspirational figure he is for me.

Thank you to the American Dream Mall staff for accommodating such a large and awesome event and for bringing Jimmy that much closer to us all. And thank you Mr. Beast for making the world a brighter place.

Zachary Greenberg is a health and benefits consultant analyst at Mercer and the TABC Track coach. In 2014, Zack placed 4th in his age group at the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Additionally, he recently watched Captain America: The First Avenger on Disney+. If you have any recommendations of fun places for Zachary to cover, please email him at [email protected]

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