‘I was just helping’: YouTube’s biggest star MrBeast responds to criticism of him buying a neighborhood to house his staff and family

MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, at a red carpet event.
YouTuber MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, has raised the suspicion of the internet by buying up properties for his staff and family.

“Only I could get canceled for giving people a place to live with no strings attached.”

That was the response from YouTube’s biggest star MrBeast following reports that the North Carolina man was buying a neighborhood to house his staff and members of his family.

MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, has reportedly been buying up property in Greenville—a city in his home state—over the past couple of years.

But the move has been criticized by commentators online, who slammed the move as being cultlike and predicted that the online personality would begin to control the inhabitants’ lives.

The generous move isn’t a new habit for the 25-year-old, who launched Beast Philanthropy in 2017 with a mission statement of: “Feed those who are hungry. House those who are homeless. Combat the suffering of those in need.”

So far the organization has distributed more than six million pounds of food to more than 319 million people, and gifted $3 million of aid to Ukrainian refugees last summer.

But the housebuying scheme isn’t the first time Donaldson has landed himself in hot water for one of his projects.

In February, the well-intentioned video star revealed he had paid for 1,000 people to get their sight back at a cost of potentially millions of dollars.

However he was slammed for filming the experience and posting it on YouTube, with critics saying he was “making content out of people who can’t see.”

Donaldson Drive

MrBeast’s housebuying endeavor began with the purchase of his own home in 2018—a four-bedroom, four-bathroom property for approximately $320,000, according to records obtained by the New York Post.

Donaldson now owns a total of five properties in the cul de sac: A second property was purchased in 2020 for $263,000 and three more were bought off-market for a combined total of $1.45 million.

The figure isn’t going to put much of a dent into the blogger’s fortune, with Celebrity Net Worth estimating he earns $3 million per month from his video views alone, which total nearly 40 billion—before revenue streams such as merchandise and products are added.

Aaron Bowden, who sold his home to the entrepreneur last year, told the Post that MrBeast had shared his plans to move members of his family and staff into the properties.

“We negotiated back and forth and it had to be worth my while. And he wasn’t gonna buy it, if it wasn’t worth his while,” Bowden said.

There is one home left on the street that Donaldson has yet to snap up, with Bowden speculating it’s because the family’s children have yet to finish their years at school.

He explained: “My understanding is the folks who are holding out is similar to any reason why would anyone would have held out—it’s the best school districts in the area, and they have kids in school. I wouldn’t know anything for a fact because I don’t walk in their shoes, but they may change their minds when their kids are out of high school and off to college.”

Other neighbors, Bowden said, simply moved up the street after selling their property to the video media mogul.  

Representatives for the YouTuber confirmed Donaldson will be using the home when he’s not traveling or working out of his studio nearby—which he gave fans a sneak peek into last year.

Company towns

Critics say Donaldson is attempting to create a “company town”—a city or town where the residential and retail property is owned by the employer of the people who live there.

Although such schemes have been used across the coal, steel, and lumber industries, historically the schemes have been found to repress employees’ working conditions and rights.

MrBeast has rejected the hypothesis that his properties constitute a company town—albeit a very small one—tweeting: “All these company town tweets make no sense, I was just helping some people.”

A company town is reportedly in the cards for Tesla and SpaceX staff after CEO Elon Musk began buying up acres of land in Texas.

The town will be named Snailbrook—seemingly a reference to the mascot of Musk’s tunneling firm the Boring Company—according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the plan.

Representatives for MrBeast did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

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