Five years ago, Roman Atwood uploaded the first YouTube video, “Epic Cooler Prank!”, to his page. In the three-minute-long video, the digital Johnny Knoxville approaches people on the street with a large water cooler, which he tips over on unsuspecting passersby. The victims flinch and scream, but soon realize the cooler is, in fact, empty. The prank is unsophisticated and silly.
“I started YouTube before you could make money,” Atwood says.
How times have changed. In FORBES’ second year ranking the top-paid YouTube stars, we uncovered the 10 channels that have made the most from their streaming stardom. These 12 internet celebrities earned a combined $70.5 million in the 12 months ending in June—a 23% increase from last year’s total.
The list is a diverse lot: a rapper, a prankster, a nerdy baker and a couple pseudonymous gamers, all who made over $5 million last year. Once again, the top spot goes to PewDiePie. The Swede (real name Felix Avrid Ulf Kjellberg) has turned silly (and often crude) snippets of himself playing videogames for his 50 million subscribers into a $15 million paycheck. This is up 20% from last year in large part due to his YouTube Red series and his book, This Book Loves You, which sold over 112,000 copies in our scoring period according to Nielsen Bookscan.
Check the list of by clicking here: The Highest-Paid YouTube Stars 2016