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MrBeast’s ‘Real Life Squid Game’ and the price of viral stunts


First, everyone was talking about “Squid Game,” the Korean psychological thriller that became Netflix’s biggest series launch ever, with 142 million viewers. Now, everyone’s talking about YouTuber MrBeast’s recreation of the show’s titular fight-to-the-death, which racked up 142 million views in eight days. (Don’t worry, no one was killed).
Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast), the 23-year-old who was just named YouTube’s Top U.S. Creator for the second year in a row, built sets and made costumes for 456 competitors, making the video look as close to the Netflix show as possible. And, like the popular series, the last player standing would win a life-changing cash prize — in Donaldson’s case, competitors had the chance to win $456,000.
There are a number of reasons why Donaldson’s “Squid Game” is almost as popular as “Squid Game” itself, at least by the number of views. For one thing, YouTube is free, and Netflix isn’t.
But Donaldson’s virality comes at a cost. His 25-minute video required a whopping $3.5 million to make, he said on Twitter. For comparison, the nine-episode series cost Netflix a total of …

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