PewDiePie is the most famous celebrity you may have never heard of, depending on how much time you spend watching YouTube. Born Felix Kjellberg, the 26-year-old has the most popular channel on the video site, with roughly 44.4 million subscribers. His biggest draw are "Let's Plays," videos of himself playing video games. (They're a popular phenomenon across YouTube and are often much more enjoyable than they sound.)
TIME's Lev Grossman spoke with Kjellberg for a profile in the June 6 issue. Here are five things we learned about the YouTuber reinventing modern celebrity, also one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People this year.
- His parents didn't let him have a video game console growing up: “I wasn’t allowed to have a Nintendo,” he told TIME. “Only when I was sick, we would rent one. So I was sick a lot.”
- He was nervous about making his first video: “I remember when I did my first video,” Kjellberg says. “I’d sit alone in my room just looking around like, I hope no one sees me, because this is the weirdest shit ever.”
- He has never had a single video catch fire, succeeding on singles and doubles instead of home runs: "An interesting note about Kjellberg’s rise to fame: he never really had a video go viral," writes TIME's Lev Grossman. "He just ground it out, slow and steady, growing subscriber by subscriber."
- Like many other Internet stars, he makes money from advertising deals with brands: “It’s not something I’m trying to hide,” Kjellberg says. “It’s not like I have to be, like, This bagel is delicious, I love it, it’s my favorite.”
- He works a six-day week: "I take Saturdays off,” he says.