Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Who is Pewdiepie? YouTube creator reaches 100 million subscribers despite controversial content

He may be the most-followed individual on the video platform, but his content hasn't always proved popular

Felix Kjellberg has more than 100 million subscribers on YouTube. Getty Images
Felix Kjellberg has more than 100 million subscribers on YouTube. Getty Images

Pewdiepie has more to celebrate this month than just his recent nuptials. The social media star, who wed internet personality Marzia Kjellberg in London last week, yesterday hit the 100 million subscriber mark on YouTube.

The 29-year-old content creator, who was born Felix Kjellberg in Sweden and resides in the UK, is the first individual to pass the video-sharing platform's milestone. The first account to hit the landmark was Indian music production channel T-Series, which posts Bollywood music videos and film trailers.

Pewdiepie, meanwhile, is known for his comedy content as well as walk-throughs of popular video games.

How did he find fame?

Kjellberg started his channel back in 2010, and dropped out of his university degree in industrial economics and technology management the following year. His earliest content mostly focused on playing video games with humorous commentary (usually with plenty of swearing, which is why we've not included an example).

He later branched out into vlogs, documenting his day-to-day life for viewers, as well as short comedy sketches. By 2012, Pewdiepie hit his first one million subscribers.

He notably worked as a solo operation for many years, editing his own videos, before expanding operations in 2017. To date, he has uploaded more than 3,900 videos to YouTube.

A past of notable controversies

While Pewdiepie's viewership has continued to grow over the years, the star has issued several apologies for some of his more controversial content.

In 2012, the gamer apologised for making rape jokes in his videos, where he had referred to being beaten as being sexually assaulted.

"I just wanted to make clear that I'm no longer making rape jokes; as I mentioned before I'm not looking to hurt anyone and I apologise if it ever did," he said at the time.

In 2017, numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, highlighted instances in which Kjellberg had used racial slurs and anti-Semitic language, sparking a backlash that saw the hashtag #PewdiepieIsOverParty on Twitter.

In one of his videos, a pair of men hired by the YouTuber, in a bid to prove what lengths people would go to for $5 (Dh18), held up a sign saying: “Death to all Jews.”

The content creator later removed several videos, and issued an apology on Tumblr.

"I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes, [...] I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary," Kjellberg wrote. "Although this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive."

How much does he earn?

With income from YouTube advertising, sponsorship deals, partnerships, voice acting work and more, Kjellberg is one of social media's most profitable stars. While he's never revealed his earnings, in 2016 Forbes declared him the highest-earning YouTuber with an annual income of $15 million (Dh55m).

He is, however, also known for his philanthropy, regularly starting charity drives for non-profits such as Save the Children and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Updated: August 26, 2019 04:38 PM

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