YouTube star PewDiePie shrugs off his salary critics

pewdiepie response screenshot

YouTube's biggest star responded to angry feedback about how much money he made last year the best way he knows how -- in a video.

Felix Kjellberg, better known online as PewDiePie, reportedly made $7 million in 2014, according to a report in the Swedish paper Expressen.

When news of his paycheck went viral earlier this week, many people were enraged by the large sum, but he's used to this kind of attention.

The 25-year-old has close to 38 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. His videos, which are mainly of him playing video games, have been viewed more than 9 billion times.

"Whenever it comes out how much I made a certain year, people just get so shocked," he said in a video message. "And a lot of people, I saw, were very, very angry."

One Internet critic accused him of doing nothing but scream, make lame sex jokes and "dress up in female underwear and do the Harlem Shake." Kjellberg welcomed the challenger.

"If you look as good as I do in a bikini then you can probably pull it off, but I sincerely doubt that you do, so I'm sorry," he said.

To a Facebook user named Alex who mused about the fact that someone could make a living "for being a complete retard in front of a webcam," Kjellberg encouraged him to try.

"I think that's what's cool about YouTube, that anyone can technically do it, right? Surely if I didn't exist, there would be someone to fill my place," he said. "I think Alex, if you do it too, you could [make] it. I believe in you."

And another complaint he said he sees a lot is why he doesn't deserve to get paid this much because there are funnier YouTube entertainers out there.

"It really doesn't matter what you think," Kjellberg replied. "Life is not fair. It's just how it is. If you think someone else is funnier, go refresh their videos over and over, because that's how we get paid."

Kjellberg has tried to avoid the topic of money over the years. He said he doesn't understand why there is so much interest.

"I'm not going to pretend like money doesn't matter to me because it matters to everyone," he said. "It [just] seems like the whole world cares more about how much money I make than I do myself."

The world cares because Kjellberg's PewDiePie persona is no longer just a guy who plays video games online. He's part of a bigger business model that Google (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), BuzzFeed and many other Internet and media firms are trying to figure out.

Internet videos command the highest advertising rates and companies are clamoring to get people to come to their sites to watch what they have. Part of that strategy means finding ways to attract and pay popular stars like Kjellberg.

"What people don't really think about, until it's in their face, is that I have 9 billion views and that translates to something," he said. "There's ads in my videos. I make money out of those."

Kjellberg's six-minute response video has been watched almost 2 million times since he posted it on YouTube on Tuesday. He addressed the camera directly the entire time and spoke in the same matter-of-fact tone he used during a Q&A on Reddit a year ago when he confirmed that he made about $4 million in 2013.

So, if he really did make $7 million last year, that means he got a 75% income bump in 12 months -- a growth rate anyone, or any company, would be happy to see.

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