There are a few things commonly accepted about Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie. He screams a lot. He publishes videos himself playing video games. He makes a lot of money doing so. The latest figure is $7.4 million, which comes by way of Swedish newspaper Expressen (via Engadget and Fusion). That shouldn't be too surprising — Kjellberg is the king of YouTube, after all. When we nominated him for The Verge 50 this past December, he had 32.6 million subscribers and 6.9 billion views; less than a year later, he's now up to 37.7 million subscribers and over 9 billion views. Assuming the $7.4 million figure is accurate, that comes out to less than 20 cents per subscriber.
But even if you don't know who PewDiePie is or care about what he does, I encourage you to watch the video embedded above, published earlier today. In it, a reserved but charming Kjellberg talks directly to the camera about the report. He doesn't act defensive, and he doesn't scream; it feels honest and personable. "People... thought it was unfair," he said. "They thought I just sit on my ass all day and i just yell at the screen over here — which is true — but there's so much more to it."
"If you think someone's funnier, go refresh their videos over and over, because that's how we get paid."
This isn't the first time Kjellberg has addressed his income. When The Wall Street Journal published a piece last June about him making $4 million in 2013, he hosted a Reddit AMA, answering questions about income, charitable contributions, and fan interaction.
And this is the part of PewDiePie's story that sometimes gets lost in all the big numbers. Love it or hate it, his success — like so many other YouTube personalities — isn't just in playing games but actually connecting and talking directly to an audience. No agent, press release, or any other intermediary. He just hit record.