TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a secret weapon during their Oct. 22 home game versus the Atlanta Falcons: Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, whose PG-rated YouTube channel featuring pranks, challenges and philanthropic gestures has amassed more than 200 million subscribers.
In uniform, Donaldson led the team onto the field and remained on the sideline during the game as part of a sort-of official contract worth $10 million.
His video featuring the stunt was posted on Nov. 25 and, as of Thursday, has been viewed more than 80 million times.
And the Buccaneers Instagram video of Donaldson running onto the field is the most engaged Instagram post in the club’s history, with more than 701,000 likes and 2,000 comments as of Thursday, according to James Ruth, the organization’s chief marketing officer.
“More than Tom Brady’s retirement, more than the Super Bowl,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to do something that extends the Bucs brand and club to a huge audience.”
The 15-minute video follows Donaldson and his friends as they train for six jobs with annual pay ranging from $1 to $10 million.
His job panning for gold can fall on the low-end of that scale, according to the video. After five hours, Donaldson found just 2 cents’ worth of gold.
His team worked on a dinosaur bone dig that pays $100,000 a year and trained to be astronauts ($200,000 a year) and airplane pilots ($300,000 a year) before heading to Tampa Bay for the two highest-paying gigs.
At St. Petersburg’s Litewave Studios, Donaldson and friends Karl Jacobs and Lannan Eacott, also known as LazarBeam, worked as hand models.
“They actually brought in one of the best hand models in the world for the segment,” studio owner Christian Cashmir said. “She gets paid $1 million a year.”
Jacobs had to hold a snake and a scorpion during a hand modeling photo shoot to showcase the Immortals of Aveum video game.
“It was a little crazy,” Cashmir laughed.
Maddie Montana, a MrBeast producer who once worked at LiteWave, made the connection, Cashmir said. The Buccaneers said she also reached out to them.
“They had this pie in the sky idea,” Ruth said. “Huge credit to the Buccaneers organization for leaning into it.”
The video ends with Donaldson’s stint as a Buc.
He signed an official one-year contract but pointed out that the small print was clear that he was only a player for 48 hours and would not actually receive any money. That clause was punctuated with an “LOL.”
Donaldson went to the team’s practice facility where he lifted weights, attempted to kick a field goal and missed, threw a touchdown to wide receiver Chris Godwin, met self-declared MrBeast fan linebacker Shaquil Barrett, video chatted with former quarterback Tom Brady and was fitted for a uniform.
Nelson Luis, the team’s chief communications officer, said that Donaldson did not take up an official roster spot and they worked everything out with the NFL “to make sure there was no funny business.”
But, as he led the team onto the field for their game the next day, Donaldson declared that he would play a snap if the Buccaneers went up by 100 points. They lost 16-13.
Would he have gotten into the game?
“No,” Luis said. “No chance.”