A 9-year-old is the top-earner of YouTube stars this year, making nearly $30 million according to Forbes.
This is the third year in a row that he’s topped the list. The third-grader, who lives with his family in Texas, became internet famous for his unboxing videos when he was just four years old. A video of him unboxing and reviewing toys from the movie Cars went viral and garnered more than a billion views.
Kaji’s Ryan’s World channel took off from there. Unboxing videos, where kids review toys or games, have become enormously popular on YouTube, and thousands are uploaded each month.
Parents Shion and Loanna Kaji, say their son’s success is because he’s able to create a special bond with his viewers,
“I feel like Ryan’s relationship with his fans is very unique and different from talent on TV.
His relationship with his fans is more of a friendship where every time we meet Ryan’s fans and their family, they always mention,
‘Oh, my son or daughter thinks they are Ryan’s best friend.'”
The Kaji family has taken Ryan’s YouTube success and turned it into lucrative licensing, branding, and TV deals running a production company called Sunlight Entertainment, with a staff of 30 which helps produce videos.
Forbes says the Ryan’s World brand has been licensed to more than 5,000 products and they’ve also produced a line of merchandise for Walmart.
Ryan has his own shows on Nickelodeon and Roku.
This Thanksgiving a float of Ryan as his superhero alter ego appears at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Earlier this month, he launched a virtual world on the popular videogame platform Roblox.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kaji’s brand empire is said to be worth around $500 million.