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If your New Year’s resolution was to spend less time playing video games, you should close this article now. There’s no hope for kicking the habit once you learn that gaming turned a 27-year-old into a multi-millionaire in 2018.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins told CNN recently that he earned about $10 million in the past year from Fortnite, the online battle royale game that has exploded in popularity. With 20.7 million YouTube subscribers and 12.8 million followers on the live broadcast platform Twitch, Ninja is arguably the world’s biggest streamer right now. He’s even played with Drake.
“I don’t think anyone thought it was possible to get this big through live streaming,” he told ESPN The Magazine last year.
Ninja’s giant audience is helping him rake in the cash. Not only does he get a cut from Twitch subscription fees, which range from $4.99 to $24.99 a month, but he also sells merchandise and profits from several high-profile sponsorships. His recent Twitter posts include ads for Uber Eats, Samsung and Doritos. On New Year’s Eve, he hosted a 12-hour live stream from a Times Square rooftop in partnership with Red Bull.
The money didn’t necessarily come easily: Ninja streamed over 3,800 hours of Fortnite during 2018. That’s about $2,600 an hour before taxes, but he worked significantly more than the 2,080 hours a standard full-time employee does in a year.
It can be hard to take breaks, too: In June, Ninja lost 40,000 followers when he took 48 hours off from streaming. He says he’s taken one trip in the past eight years.
“The longest vacation I’ve ever taken was my honeymoon, and that was like six days,” he told the New York Times last month. “And that was devastating. It was a calculated risk.”
When he’s not streaming, what’s Ninja spending his small fortune on?
Ninja told ESPN he prioritizes taking care of his family, and he’s previously said he likes to donate to charity. On Black Friday, he raised $52,000 for the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund; this summer, he donated $500,000 in prize money to the Alzheimer’s Association. He also participated in a GuardianCon charity stream that reached $2.7 million, according to Forbes.
“2018 was hands down the greatest year of my life. I have been working toward this goal my entire life, gaming since I was a kid,” Ninja tweeted Tuesday, then offered some advice to his fans. “Take control of your destiny this year and make s—t happen.”