Mr.Beast responded to backlash over the news that he's buying housing in North Carolina for his employees.
Critics called the move "culty" and accused him of creating a "company town" that would ultimately benefit his business.
The YouTuber said only he could "get canceled for giving people a place to live with no strings attached."
YouTube star Mr.Beast has responded to backlash over news that he's buying up an entire North Carolina neighborhood for his friends, family, and employees.
"I was just helping some people," the creator tweeted on Thursday, responding to criticisms that he's contributing an unhealthy work-life dynamic.
The YouTuber, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, earned an estimated $54 million in 2022 and lives in a relatively modest home in the area where he grew up near Greenville, North Carolina. On Tuesday, reports began circulating that he's been "buying out" the neighborhood for himself and his friends, family, and workers, per the New York Post.
On Twitter this week, some praised the creator's generosity and ingenuity, as he's become somewhat famous for giving away millions to strangers. Other users, however, accused him of starting to create a "company town" with little separation for employees between their workplace and their home life. (Historically, a company town is a place where all, if not most, of the primary businesses are owned by one sole employer.)
His biggest critics have described his latest motions as "culty."
"Your home and your workplace/boss should be as separated from each other as possible," one user wrote. "If the houses are owned by one of his companies, that's leverage he can pull on his staff if they want to, say, leave for a better job opportunity or just unionize on him."
"What's next?" one user asked. "He's going to buy a whole state for all his followers?"
Donaldson took to Twitter to write off some these criticisms. "Only I could get canceled for giving people a place to live with no strings attached," he said, directly responding to a viral tweet calling attention to some of these issues. "All these company town tweets make no sense, I was just helping some people."
The creator's fans and inner circle then jumped to his defense. "Helping?! That's it Jimmy. That's the final straw!! I'm moving out of the neighborhood," his childhood friend and fellow YouTuber Chris Tyson wrote back. "How dare jimmy help people out." another user quipped.
—MrBeast (@MrBeast) May 11, 2023
It's unclear who currently lives in the homes the YouTuber purchased, but Donaldson has long lived near his childhood friends, as Insider's Tanya Chen, Geoff Weiss, and Amanda Perelli previously reported. Aaron Bowden, one of the homeowners who sold to Donaldson, told the Post that the creator had mentioned that he planned to move his employees and family into the homes.
This is not the first time Donaldson's large-scale philanthropy has drawn criticism.
In late January, a video where he filmed himself gifting cataract surgery to 1,000 people sparked backlash, as some viewers accused the YouTuber of performing the act for "clout" and engagement. Others said Donaldson's video highlighted flaws in the US healthcare system, noting that the surgery was rendered inaccessible to those who didn't have the funds or medical insurance, Insider's Charissa Cheong reported.
Donaldson did not acknowledge the systematic criticism but tweeted in defense of his generosity: "Twitter - Rich people should help others with their money. Me - Okay, I'll use my money to help people and I promise to give away all my money before I die. Every single penny. Twitter - MrBeast bad."
In early March, the YouTuber also received online pushback for a video in which he gave away 20,000 pairs of shoes to South African students in need. Critics accused the creator of profiting from a broken system rather than addressing its underlying problems for sustainable improvement. But many rushed to his defense, saying the criticism had been overblown and oversimplified, as Insider's Geoff Weiss reported.
The issue surrounding Donaldson and his elaborate charities is complicated, as YouTuber Ludwig Ahgren noted in a video in March.
"He's a part of the machine. He's not gonna fix capitalism, he's going to operate within it – and it's fine that he also does good," Ahgren said."You don't have to love him because he's doing charity work … but to hate him for it seems a little backwards. Is it better if he doesn't do it? I don't think so."
Donaldson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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