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Controversial Streaming Megastar PewDiePie Announces He Will Take a Break From YouTube, Says ‘I’m Tired’

Amid growing blowback for his remarks, Felix Kjellberg took to YouTube this weekend to announce his departure from the platform

Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images (File)

What to Know

  • The 30-year-old Swedish vlogger, whose legal name is Felix Kjellberg, rose to prominence with his commentary on gaming culture, amassing a following of more than 100 million subscribers on the platform.
  • In recent years, Kjellberg has found himself at the center of controversy as some of his racist remarks have been embraced by far-right groups.
  • Kjellberg has made millions on advertising and other deals thanks to his massive YouTube following, but his offensive antics have caused some partners to reconsider their associations with the YouTube star.

Mired by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism, one of YouTube’s biggest stars, PewDiePie, announced he will take a break from the platform in 2020.

The 30-year-old Swedish vlogger, whose legal name is Felix Kjellberg, rose to prominence with his commentary on gaming culture, amassing a following of more than 100 million subscribers on the platform. In recent years, though, Kjellberg has found himself at the center of controversy as some of his racist remarks have been embraced by far-right groups. Kjellberg has repeatedly refuted allegations of racism and anti-Semitism.

Amid growing blowback for his remarks, Kjellberg took to YouTube this weekend to announce his departure from the platform.

“I am taking [a] break from YouTube next year,” he said in a video. “I wanted to say it in advance because I made up my mind. I’m tired. I’m feeling very tired. I don’t know if you can tell ... early next year I’ll be away for a little while. I’ll explain that later but I wanted to give a heads up.”

In the video, Kjellberg criticizes YouTube for its new harassment policy, in which the company says it will no longer allow anyone on its platform to post content that “maliciously insults” others based on protected traits including race, gender expression and sexual orientation.

“We have this anarchy system. Don’t come and ruin it for us, YouTube,” he said. “The rule is if you do dumb sh*t on YouTube you will get called out on it. We need that. It’s the only thing keeping us sane, YouTube.”

The vlogger also posts videos to Amazon-owned Twitch as well as DLive. It’s unclear if he will also take a break from these platforms.

Kjellberg has made millions on advertising and other deals thanks to his massive YouTube following, but his offensive antics have caused some partners to reconsider their associations with the YouTube star.

In 2017, Disney cut ties with Kjellberg after he paid two men to hold a sign that read “Death to all Jews” in one video. YouTube also severed a partnership with Kjellberg at the time, though the platform didn’t remove his account.

Also in 2017, the YouTuber apologized for racist comments he made in a video. More recently, a gunman who live-streamed the mass shooting of 51 people at the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand earlier this year announced, “Remember lads, Subscribe to PewDiePie.”

Kjellberg condemned the shooter.

Amid public criticism of his comments this year, Kjellberg promised to donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit that fights anti-Semitism. He then cancelled the donation after some of his fans spread a theory that he had been forced to make the donation.

At the time, the vlogger said he wanted to support a charity he was “actually passionate to donate to.”

This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC:

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