LOS ANGELES (AP) — YouTube’s top-earning celebrity is a 25-year-old video-game-playing jokester who took in $12 million over the past year.
Forbes magazine says Sweden’s Felix Kjellberg, better known by his handle “PewDiePie,” tops its first list of people who have spun short online videos into huge piles of cash.
YouTube stars make money mainly by getting paid to interact with products on their channels and sharing ad revenue with YouTube. Some also star in movies, write books, go on tour, sell music or cut endorsement deals. They’re a hit with younger audiences and brands trying to reach the next generation of consumers.
Two acts tied for second on Forbes’ list, both earning $8.5 million: comedy prankster duo Smosh — Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla — and the Fine Brothers, Benny and Rafi Fine.
Dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling ranked fourth with $6 million. Tied for fifth were comedians Rhett and Link — made of Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal III — and video game commentator Olajide Olatunji, known as “KSI,” with $4.5 million.
Make-up artist Michelle Phan was seventh at $3 million.
The No. 8 slot was a three-way tie at $2.5 million shared by comedian Lilly Singh, or “Superwoman;” prankster Roman Atwood; and chef Rosanna Pansino.
Forbes is best known for its list of billionaires and the list appearing in its Nov. 2 issue marks its first stab at ranking YouTube stars. It says it measured earnings before management fees and taxes and came up with the figures based on data from online sources such as Nielsen, IMDb and interviews with managers, lawyers, industry insiders and the stars themselves.