Ryan Kaji: The truth about YouTube’s highest paid star of 2019

An 8-year-old is making more money than you. To be fair, he’s making more money than most people. Ryan Kaji, whose channel Ryan’s World boasts an insane 22.9 million subscribers, has officially been named by Forbes as YouTube’s highest earner in 2019.

Kaji first shot to fame via “unboxing videos,” during which he’d excitedly open presents for a growing number of fans, on his original channel Ryan ToysReview. His first channel launched in 2015, but later transitioned into the more general Ryan’s World. Suffice to say, he’s definitely not one of those YouTube stars who just looks young — Kaji is the real deal.

These days, the adorable little guy has his own line of branded toys, clothing, and home goods (sold at Target, Walmart, and Amazon), a spin-off TV show on Nickelodeon, and even a Hulu deal to repackage his videos for a mass-market audience. The sky’s clearly the limit for this mini mogul. 

Ryan Kaji has made YouTube a bonafide business

Kaji and his parents clearly know where the big money is. Videos featuring kids average almost three times as many views on high-subscriber channels, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Another study confirmed 81 percent of parents with children aged 11 or younger let them watch YouTube. “YouTube is the most popular babysitter in the world,” says Eyal Baumel, CEO of management company Yoola, which specializes in digital stars, told Forbes.

The ten highest earners on YouTube brought in a staggering $162 million between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. According to Forbes, Kaji alone made $26 million over that time period (he earned $22 million the previous year). Considering he’s been working since the age of 3, it’s only fair, particularly as the youngster graduated from unboxing toys to conducting science experiments and scoring branding deals.

Ryan Kaji is a huge deal on YouTube

Kaji is a huge deal on YouTube, as his “HUGE EGGS Surprise Toys Challenge with Inflatable water slide” video has garnered almost 2 billion views to date. The original clip that made him famous, which featured Kaji opening a box filled with over 100 toys from Pixar’s animated series Cars, also has over 1 billion views.

Michael Bienstock, chief executive of the influencer-focused wealth-management company Semaphore, told Business Insider he reached out to Kaji’s father to advise on how complicated the business could get if it continued to grow exponentially. These days, their empire is assisted by kids-entertainment company Pocket.Watch, which brought Ryan’s World to the attention of huge brands including Colgate, Roku, and Bonkers Toys.

In an interview with Moms, Kaji said he really enjoys such partnerships, enthusing, “One of the best parts [of the job] is getting to work with brands I love, such as Colgate, to create something new and help kids have fun — even when brushing their teeth!”

As for his favorite part about making YouTube videos, Kaji said, “I get to spend time with my family, and we have so much fun together, especially my younger sisters Emma and Kate.”

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