YouTuber PewDiePie has announced he will be taking a break from the video-sharing platform, saying he is “very tired”.
With 102 million subscribers, the Swedish vlogger and comedian was for many years the platform’s most popular star but was overtaken earlier this year by T-Series, an Indian record label which now has around 120 million subscribers.
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is known for his video-game commentary, but has also been the centre of controversy due to accusations of racism and antisemitism.
Sharing his decision in a video, PewDiePie said: “I am taking a break from YouTube next year,” he said. “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. Just so you know, 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 2017, he used the n-word against another player during a live gaming stream. He apologised, saying he “didn’t mean that in a bad way”.
In the same year, Disney ended its joint venture with Kjellberg after antisemitic references were found in several of his videos – including people holding up a sign that read: “Death to all Jews.”
He responded by saying he was “trying to show how crazy the modern world is”, adding that he had paid two men from India through Fiverr, a freelance marketplace, to make the sign.
The YouTuber has been embraced by the far right, including the Christchurch shooter, who killed 51 people in a New Zealand mosque while livestreaming and telling viewers to “subscribe to PewDiePie”.
The 30-year-old said that he felt “absolutely sickened” to be mentioned by the gunman. He removed some of his videos following the shooting, saying he now understood some of his jokes to be “ultimately offensive”.
This year, following backlash against his offensive content, the vlogger promised to donate $50,000 (£37,500) to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit that fights antisemitism. However, he then withdrew the pledge after his fans spread conspiracy theories that he had been forced to make the donation.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised to instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in a video. “Which is 100% my fault.”