A seven-year-old boy who plays with and reviews toys on YouTube has earned a staggering $22 million in 2018 alone. Ryan of Ryan ToysReview came in first place in Forbes’ ranking of this year’s 10 highest-paid YouTubers in the world.
The young boy, whose last name and location within the US haven’t been made public to protect his privacy, jumped from eighth place last year to number one this year. Ryan surpassed a number of well-known YouTubers on this year’s list, beating 21-year-old actor and YouTube personality Jake Paul who earned $22,500,000 this year. The seven-year-old also earned more money this year than makeup artist Jeffree Star, and Swedish gamer Felix Kjellberg – who is the most followed YouTuber with a whopping 72.5 million followers.
According to his mother, Ryan was once an avid watcher of toy reviews, especially ones that focused on Thomas the Tank Engine, before he asked to start his own channel. ‘One day, he asked me, “How come I’m not on YouTube when all the other kids are?” So we just decided—yeah, we can do that,’ his mom, who preferred to remain anonymous, told TubeFilter in 2016. ‘Then, we took him to the store to get his very first toy—I think it was a Lego train set—and it all started from there.’
The channel, Ryan’s father said, was also a way to share bits of his son’s life with their extended family members, many of whom live outside the US. His most popular video has a staggering 934,602,459 views. The video sees Ryan opening a giant Disney Pixar Lightning McQueen Easter egg that is filled toy planes and toy cars. Ryan’s videos have become so successful that he now even has his own line of toys.
His line of toys includes a Giant Mystery Egg, which is filled with different toys including slime, lights, and a limited edition squishy toy. Ryan’s father often appears in his son’s clips, which see Ryan discovering and playing with various types of toys, often while making appreciative comments.
His family have since created a second channel called Ryan’s Family Review, which features the family completing different challenges, vlogs and a tour of the family’s house. Most of his viewers are children between the ages of three and seven, his father said last year. The majority of Ryan’s fans are located in the US, but many also live in the UK and in the Philippines.
Ryan’s mother, a former high school chemistry teacher, has quit her job to work full-time on her son’s channel. Her husband works as a structural engineer. His mother and father have also staged other types of videos, such as several food challenges and a recent vlog filmed when the family went shopping for Ryan’s own toy collection in Walmart. His younger identical twin sisters Emma and Kate have also previously featured in his videos.
2018’s highest-earning YouTubers
1. Ryan – Ryan ToysReview
Ryan’s just like every other 7-year-old: He loves Legos, trains, cars—and his 17 million followers. His latest mini-mogul move: a line of collectibles and more, now selling at Walmart.
2. Jake Paul
The boisterous younger brother of disgraced Logan (No. 10) earned a career-best income from his thriving merchandise business. He attracted more than 3.5 billion views of his rap songs and goofy pranks over our scoring period.
3. Coby and Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney – Dude Perfect
This five-man sports crew (Coby and Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney) specializes in feats of dexterity and intricate trick shots— say, hurling Ping-Pong balls that trigger domino-falls of Oreos, which garnered 175 million views).
4. Daniel Middleton – DanTDM
Last year’s top earner at $16.5 million—Daniel Middleton, a British gamer who specializes in Minecraft—has been playing on-camera for six years, amassing a following of 20.7 million, who shell out for his tour and merchandise, which includes backpacks, baseball caps and hoodies.
5. Jeffree Star
The makeup artist, famous since the Myspace era, has reinvented himself as a beauty mogul, cofounding Jeffree Star Cosmetics, which sells an estimated $100 million–plus of eye shadow, lipstick and highlighters annually.
Hawaii-native Markiplier is on his PS4 nearly all day everyday—but he’s not bumming around. The gamer toured North America, signed seven-figures worth of brand deals and, with No. 8 Jacksepticeye, recently launched Cloak, a high-end athleisure line for gamers.
7. Evan Fong – Vanoss Gaming
Witty Canadian gamer Evan Fong plays mainstream titles like Call of Duty and Assassins Creed . On the side he’s launching a hip-hop career, but music (so far) isn’t proving nearly as lucrative as the subtle art of being a couch potato in demand.
8. Seán McLoughlin – Jacksepticeye
Foulmouthed, energetic Seán McLoughlin is the most popular YouTuber in Ireland thanks to his colorful video-game commentary. A few bad words haven’t kept him from going mainstream: He did a series for Disney and is developing exclusive content for live-streaming platform Twitch.
9. Felix Kjellberg – PewDiePie
Scandal hasn’t stopped Felix Kjellberg, the Swedish gamer who is the most followed YouTuber (72.5 million followers). Despite a backlash last year after a rash of anti-Semitic videos, advertisers have returned, shelling out up to $450,000 for a sponsored video.
10. Logan Paul
In January 2018, the 23-year-old elder Paul brother was kicked off YouTube’s Google Preferred program, which gives favourable ad rates to popular channels, after he filmed a video in Japan that showed an apparent suicide hanging from a tree. He apologized. His income from videos (pratfalls, pranks) and brand deals took a hit, but loyal fans kept his hefty merchandise business afloat.