Feastables, a snack company launched last year and helmed by none other than Jimmy Donaldson—aka YouTube stunt, tech, and philanthropy sensation MrBeast—drew controversy on Mar. 3, 2023, after Donaldson tweeted a request to his followers asking them to fix up the displays of his product at Walmart stores.
“I need your help! Next time you see Feastables in Walmart (and soon to be new retailers) if you could clean up the presentation and make it look better that’d make me very happy. I’m building a team to do this routinely, just need help in the short term,” he tweeted.
Feastables, which has its own Twitter account, shared that fans who spruce up the displays are eligible to enter a contest to win $5,000. Just submit a before and after “shelfie” to be considered.
“Did you see Feastables bars on the shelf at your local Walmart a big ol mess? Want to enter a monthly drawing for $5,000?” Feastables states on its website. “Well friends, if you clean up the store shelf for the next person and send us before/after photos you can be entered into a monthly drawing for $5,000! Follow the below steps!”
A lot of fans seemed eager and willing to drop everything and help their favorite YouTuber with no concrete promise of compensation for their work. They even posted pictures demonstrating their brand loyalty. One Twitter user alerted Donaldson he was at Walmart, saying, “I fixed them properly…Anything for the team. I even bought the chocolate sea salt one.”
Other users were angry about how unpaid labor is often part of the creator economy experience. They argued average people are often exploited in order to help a creator they feel a personal connection to.
One Twitter user said, “It’s fascinating to watch the stage of capitalism where people are honored to do free labor for rich people that don’t care about them because they feel some kind of connection and loyalty like a dog wanting a treat, only the treat is an imagined feeling of connection.”
Another user drew connections between Donaldson’s request and Willy Wonka—who Donaldson explicitly imitated in the past with the launch of a Feastables-themed chocolate factory.
“He’s a walking lottery ticket. Willy wonka just hanging out at target in Des Moines picking a random peon who gets their life changed. If you curry favor with god you may be rewarded with gold,” the user tweeted.
Some users argued Donaldson was quite smart to implement this marketing ploy.
“Brilliant! Crowdsourcing the clean up. An amazing way to take care of the problem within your own influence. Proud of you. Watch out @Hersheys there’s a new and better way of doing things,” one creator tweeted.
And then there are the folks who decided to reign chaos down, sharing images of themselves purposely messing up the Feastables display. “I will continue destroying your chocolate displays until you pay me $100k,” one Twitter creator (@websiteidi0t) tweeted alongside an image of a Feastables shelf in total shambles.
“I think Mr. Beast sold his soul to the Devil,” the creator told Passionfruit in an email.
This is not the first time Donaldson sparked debate. He caused a stir on Twitter in February 2023 after posting a video saying he “cured” 1,000 people of blindness. While some users accused Donaldson of “charity porn,” others flocked to vehemently come to his defense.
While he is known for attracting his fair share of controversy, Donaldson is largely acknowledged for scale and flashiness, with many of his followers praising him for his large charitable footprint. Donaldson currently has the fourth most subscribed YouTube channel. As of January 2023, he has over 130 million subscribers.
Passionfruit reached out to Feastables for comment via email, to Walmart via its media inquiry form, and to Donaldson’s publicist contacts listed on his IMDb Pro page. We also reached out to the creators quoted in this piece via Twitter message.