In the belly of the MrBeast

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I Tried The MrBeast Burger

—by Adam Bumas

Yesterday, Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson crossed a boundary no individual YouTuber has ever been to cross. He overtook Indian record company T-Series to become the single most-subscribed channel on YouTube. He’s at the top of the mountain, his Shopify-branded flag planted astride the single most important media service in the world today. 

By pure coincidence, I had a chance for some extra perspective on this over the weekend. A friend visiting the city on summer vacation insisted we go to the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, which happens to be home to the world’s only physical location of Donaldson’s ghost kitchen venture, MrBeast Burger.

(Adam in the belly of the beast.)

I’d never visited the American Dream, but I was excited to finally check out the enormous boondoggle that took 15 years and billions of dollars to open, which happened — with perfect comic timing — in March 2020. It’s the biggest mall in America, major sections of it have been completely empty since it opened, and it’s hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The only time I’ve ever known it to be full to capacity is when MrBeast himself opened his restaurant in September 2022. Hard to dream up a more perfect metaphor for the current state of the internet than that.

For a start, the food isn’t just bad, but has apparently gotten worse. During the buzzy opening, MrBeast Burger served trendy smashed burgers and seasoned fries, but my order of the Beast Style Combo was standard cafeteria patties and crinkle-cuts. There are only six things on the entire menu: A grilled cheese, a chicken sandwich, fries, and three marginally distinct kinds of burger, named for MrBeast and the two closest members of his entourage (A fourth burger has been eliminated from the menu after its namesake, currently known as Ava Tyson, transitioned and withdrew from onscreen appearances for MrBeast). 

As I was eating, a child walked by and shouted “Jimmy!” I wasn’t sure which one he was looking at though. Half of the restaurant’s walls are dominated by banks of screens, all playing a constant loop of MrBeast’s frenetically-edited videos, giving your lunch the flavor of Parallax View-esque sensory overload brainwashing.

(YouTube/This Is Life)

Beyond just the MrBeast videos playing on a loop, the entrance also had a display case for MrBeast memorabilia. There’s one of the “real life Squid Game” guard uniforms, the prison jumpsuit he wore for “I Survived 50 Hours In A Maximum Security Prison”, some props from videos I won’t even make the effort to look up, and Feastables bars arranged at the mannequins’ feet like garlands and laurels. He’s clearly going for a Hard Rock Cafe vibe, but is this the best he’s got? Are these the crown jewels of YouTube’s new king? 

Donaldson certainly doesn’t think so. He’s currently embroiled in a legal battle with the dining company that runs MrBeast Burger, saying the food is so bad it’s besmirching his name (I don’t think it’s bad enough to change anyone’s mind on him). The lawsuit opens by comparing MrBeast to Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio. Well, if he’s the Yankees, then he’s not leading the league.

Even with his new record, Donaldson’s YouTube growth rate has been lagging for months. Growth hackers, TikTokers, and accounts with evidence of buying inauthentic subscribers have all figured out how to grab more subs faster than him. And his recent deal with Amazon suggests that YouTube in general is a lower priority for him. Now that he has bested T-Series and truly captured YouTube’s top spot it seems more clear than ever that he will soon be cashing in his chips and trying to graduate to something somewhere soon. Which makes the void at the center of the entire MrBeast project all the more noticeable.

Donaldson made it to the number one spot on YouTube thanks to his relentless optimization. Unlike top creators before him, like PewDiePie’s relatable gaming videos or the Teen Nick-style skits over at Smosh before that, there’s actually very little to the MrBeast brand. His success is less of a reflection of his own entertainment knowhow and more a reflection of what YouTube’s algorithm looks like when stripped raw.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the MrBeast Burger. When you go to a restaurant named for someone who actively avoids any personality, you should expect a bland, unmemorable meal.

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A Good Post

This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by odoylerules.

What’s In The Google Leak?

Last month, Rand Fishkin, the CEO of Sparktoro, was sent a massive trove of leaked documentation about Google’s Search API. Fishkin’s source eventually came forward and revealed himself as Erfan Azimi, a SEO marketer, who, in a LinkedIn post, explained that he didn’t so much leak anything as much as he just found the documents on Github after Google put them there accidentally.

And over the last few weeks, SEO experts across the web have tried to make sense of what is actually in this leak. iPullRank’s Mike King wrote a sprawling blog post about the leak, concluding, “‘Lied’ is harsh, but it’s the only accurate word to use here.” While The Verge was a bit more diplomatic, writing, “[the documents] suggest Google representatives have misled the public in the past.” So what has Google been lying — or misleading — about?

Well, like I said, there’s a lot in this leak, but here are some notable tidbits. Clicks do appear to be used for rankings. There are active demotions, including one specifically called “Product Review Demotion”. And there is a specific category for “small personal site,” which iPullRank’s King thinks may be used to block small businesses from Search.

If you’re interested in going deeper here, there’s also this searchable ranking signal database which you can poke around in. Though, I’d remain skeptical of everything in it. It looks like at least some of the database was fleshed out using an AI model.

Red Letter Media Weighs In On The Dying Movie Theater Conundrum

It’s all pretty good, but the video actually starts properly around seven minutes in. It’s also an unofficial Mr Plinkett video, which is basically just shorthand for host Mike Stoklasa putting in some kind of effort to actually make a coherent point, which he doesn’t do as often as he used to, but when he does, it’s usually very good.

A Way To Actually See The Whole Fediverse

I’m real big into “understanding how popular things are” right now because it feels like there are a lot of different companies trying to convince us that their particular thing is not only super popular, but popular enough to replace the whole internet. And as much as I’m warming up to the fediverse, I would include that here.

Which is why I was so excited to stumble across FediDB in this also very interesting blog post from ​Darnell Clayton. FediDB is a great snapshot of what is actually happening on the Fediverse right now. With some curious caveats.


Per FediDB, there are about 3.3 million monthly active users on the fediverse right now. That massive spike you see there on the right is clearly the introduction of Meta’s Threads. According to its documentation, though, FediDB works via a web crawler, which is likely why it doesn’t actually have deeper insights from Threads. For instance, FediDB is tracking fediverse platforms and doesn’t include Threads in that list. That said, it is counting Threads user counts and six out of the top 10 most followed accounts on the fediverse are Threads accounts (Barack Obama is number one).

NBC Falls For AI Filter


NBC News did a package this week on the reactions to the Trump conviction and, as writer and creator Jules Terpak noticed, they included a video that they credited to US Rep. Jamaal Bowman, which they claim depicted him dancing. Which is sort of true. Except Bowman didn’t actually do any dancing in the video.

The video was uploaded to Bowman’s @jamaalbowmanny account, which is one of two TikToks his team runs. The other account, @repbowman doesn’t really do memes and shitposts. As for the dancing video, it’s actually an AI filter or template from a startup called Viggle.

Now, at this point, I’m sure you’re already thinking to yourself, “OK, so what, he posted an AI video of himself dancing. He didn’t actually dance. Who cares?” Well, I think you probably should care! Because if you don’t care now as AI unreality is drip-dropping into our lives, you’re definitely not going to care when this stuff is everywhere.

Or worse, the entire AI industry goes bust. We don’t reach AGI. The hype cycle collapses. Generative AI is forgotten and we end up with a bizarre decade of history where we can’t tell what was real and what was synthetic.

Megadeth’s Drummer Hears Paramore For The First Time

This is the same channel and the same guy who did The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” last year and it goes just as hard.

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P.S. here’s a good gamer vid.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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