Viral celebrity has grown to earn a firm position among the most profitable and influential business ventures in the world. YouTube itself is now a subject of one of Forbes' annual top-earners lists. Among the highest paid YouTube stars of 2018 are disgraced entrepreneur Logan Paul, his younger and more popular brother Jake, Swedish game reviewer PewDiePie, and beauty mogul Jeffree Star.
But the one to top the list was a young man named Ryan... a very young man.
Seven-year-old toy reviewer Ryan, star of the Ryan Toys Review channel, earned $22 million in 2018, making him the highest-earning YouTube star of the past year. But just how did this elementary school-educated child become viral media's biggest success story?
"I'm entertaining and I'm funny," Ryan, whose parents started filming his unboxing of popular toys when he was 3, recently told NBC Nightly News.
The videos eventually grew in sophistication, featuring higher quality production values, educational presentations by his mother, and "challenges" he participates in with his parents that incorporate the use of his latest product of the week. Ryan recently posted a video in which he played game "real-life" game of the classic board game Don't Wake Daddy, where he played with toys from his own new product line, Ryan's World, while trying to avoid interrupting his father's nap.
The news of Ryan's massive surprise success has inspired delighted responses from many, including his parents, and from the parents of his more than 17 million followers.
Not everyone thought this news was good news, however. Even 7-year-olds have their haters, we guess.
Indeed, what a bizarre life we lead in which a boy made more money than you last year by simply playing with his toys.
Tell us, how does that make you feel? Are you inspired to take matters into your own hands and find a new living on the viral side, or is this 7-year-old's success enough to convince you that the effort might not be worth it anymore?
Let us know in the comments below!