Ninja: From Fast Food Joint to Fortnite Mega-Bucks – a Gaming Influencer’s Success Story

Ninja is a streamer who stunned the world by making millions from playing video games. What is his secret? Let’s take a look at his success story and the key points we can take away from it.

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins is one of the world’s top Fortnite streamers, rising to prominence in 2017. Known for his frequent outbursts and top-tier gameplay, he went from working at a fast-food joint to becoming a millionaire. Let’s find out how.

Personal life

Blevins is a superstar in the gaming industry, but few people know about his personal life, details like Richard being his first name and Tyler his middle name.

Born in Detroit, the 28-year-old gamer has two brothers. The family decided to move to the suburban Illinois town of Grayslake, which is just a couple of hours outside of Chicago. At that time, Blevins was a year old. He grew up playing soccer and developed a love for video games while attending Grayslake Central High School.

While at college, he was working at a fast-food joint and playing soccer. In an episode for Walshy’s Halo History, Blevins shared how he got into video games.

“My dad was actually the main influence. He loved video games; when they started to come out, he would purchase them ‘for us,’ but really, we would go to bed around as early as you can imagine when we were little, 6 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm. And then he would play on the consoles until like 2 am-3 am in the morning.”

Blevins is married to his longtime girlfriend, Jessica Goch, who is also his manager. They tied the knot in August 2017 and currently reside in Chicago.

Halo career, Twitch, and Ninja moniker

He began competing in Halo 3 back in 2009 after realizing that he could earn money by playing games. Things got serious from thereon. He first competed in a Halo 3 event in Orlando, but it wasn’t until Halo: Reach arrived in 2011 that he started to gain attention in the community.

In 2012, Blevins won the Halo 4 2012 MLG Fall Championship with Warriors, finishing first on the leaderboard. He went on to play with several prominent gaming organizations, among them Cloud9, Renegades, and Team Liquid.

He joined Twitch in 2011, streaming Halo exclusively and casually, as well as tournaments in which he competed. Blevins also started streaming H1Z1 but decided to expand his gaming pool and attract more viewers, so he switched to the then-popular battle royale PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) in 2017. It was during that time Luminosity Gaming picked him as a Halo player and won the PUBG Gamescom Invitational Squads.

During an interview with ESPN in 2018, Blevins was asked about the origin of his name, to which he replied:

“It mainly stems from back in the day in Halo, when someone was like chasing you, and you went around a corner and jumped over their head, back smack them; it was called ‘the ninja’ or you ‘ninjaed them.’ I loved it, and I was like, this needs to be my gamer tag.”

Rise to stardom

The real surge in popularity came when the Halo veteran started streaming Fortnite on Twitch in 2017. His viewership saw a drastic change as more people tuned in to watch him. His amazing skills and the rapidly growing popularity of Fortnite helped him expand his follower base from 500,000 in September 2017 to 2 million in just six months. His YouTube channel took off,  amassing 21 million subscribers. He now has 14 million followers and 160,000 subscribers on Twitch.

It did not stop there. In March 2018, the gamer set the record for a single individual stream while playing Fortnite with Drake, pulling in a massive 388,000 live viewers simultaneously. He broke his own record the following month, drawing 667,000 live viewers at the Ninja Vegas 2018 tournament.

Blevins became the poster boy for Fortnite and Twitch, bringing in both players and viewers. He went on to sign countless deals with brands like Red Bull, NZXT, and Uber Eats. He was also the first-ever esports player to be featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine.

Net worth and earnings

The Fortnite superstar is said to have a net worth of roughly $17 million. His main sources of income are Twitch and YouTube subscribers, Twitch donations (which cost $4.99 a month), and ad revenue.

His Twitch earnings are put at around $500,000 a month from paid subscribers, not including the 14 million followers Ninja confirmed in an interview for CNN. He also gets a hefty amount in donations, which are estimated to total around $41,000 a month. These, however, can vary since a single person sometimes drops $10,000 or more.

Calculations put the gamer’s ad revenue at some $600,000 a month. This number can also fluctuate due to many people using ad blockers.

The total amount Blevins earns from sponsors and merchandise remains unknown, but it is almost certainly in the millions. It is also a secret how much he received to stream exclusively on Microsoft’s Mixer, but the figure is believed to be around $10 million.

Key points to take away

Ninja’s success is down to a combination of hard work, determination, and patience. His story reminds people to pursue their dreams relentlessly, have faith in their abilities, and keep making progress, one step at a time.

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Written by Armaghan


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