After watching contestants keep their fingers attached to a phone screen for more than 70 hours, YouTube creator Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson called an early end to a massive competition originally designed with one winner and a $25,000 prize in mind. The result? Four winners, each walking away with $20,000 in hand.
Donaldson’s “Finger on the App” was a one-time game designed in partnership with internet collective MSCHF. The rules were simple: be the last person to take your finger off a phone screen, and win $25,000. The game kicked off at 3PM ET on June 30th, and ran until Donaldson called an end to the madness on Twitter at 1:15PM ET today.
“Dear the four remaining contestants with your finger still on the app, I’m ending it here,” Donaldson tweeted. “Three days is insane! You ALL win and will ALL receive $20,000. CONGRATULATIONS!”
Despite Donaldson’s calls for players to “go to sleep,” a couple contestants kept going. One player argued on a livestream that Donaldson’s tweet could be a trick; if three of the final four players removed their fingers, the last person standing could still stand to win $25,000. Another member of the final four had his game disconnected.
A couple of the players said they tweeted at Donaldson asking about next steps because they were left confused. Donaldson then tweeted that he was able to get two “of the $20,000 winners in a phone call.” A follow up tweet from Donaldson confirmed “all four winners have been contacted and will get their money.”
“Glad a robot didn’t win,” Donaldson tweeted.
Donaldson also said that a lot of people were pretending to have won, but that his team “confirmed the actual winners thru the backend and they have all been contacted.” At least one person on a live stream who claimed to have been in the final group said they had not received a call from Donaldson. The Verge has reached out to MSCHF and Donaldson for more information.
Over the last day, Donaldson started offering some of the remaining players thousands of dollars to take their finger off the app. Two players took their fingers off the app on July 2nd for $5,000 each, according to Donaldson’s tweets, and another two players took their fingers off today for $10,000 each.
Donaldson has made a name for himself on YouTube for similar type of videos. Over the last three years, Donaldson has filmed videos about making large donations or presenting challenges that land friends and strangers new houses and cars. His channel skyrocketed under the new format. Donaldson gave his mom $100,000, bought a house for his best friend, opened pop-up shops where visitors could buy expensive electronics for cheap, and bought car shoppers a vehicle of their choice after taking over a dealership, practically giving away every car.
Prior to the game’s launch, Donaldson spoke to The Verge about expectations both his team and MSCHF had for the game. The app was prepared to hold “millions of concurrent players,” with more than 1 million players within the first hour. Having those many players enter a game at once comes with some concerns.
Donaldson was especially interested in “making sure someone couldn’t just duct tape their hand to the phone,” he told The Verge at the time. This required players to occasionally move their fingers in specific ways, he said. Donaldson also acknowledged that much of it is out of his control, but it’s that chaotic element that he was most excited by.
“I think the beauty of the game is that we don’t really have control,” Donaldson said. “It’s really up to the people playing and seeing who lasts the longest, and I think our main thing was just keeping the game fair.”
By the end, it became clear that Donaldson wanted to control the game a little to make sure contestants finally got some sleep.