- Associated Press - Sunday, March 11, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - When Payton Irwin started his YouTube channel over two years ago, he did so primarily as a hobby.

Irwin, a resident of Howard County, had a friend who made YouTube videos, and Irwin decided to give it a try. He started by simply talking to the camera, acting goofy with his friend. Little did he know these videos would make him a YouTube celebrity within just a few years.

Today, Irwin has over 41,000 subscribers and his videos have started netting more and more views. One video, where Irwin rates different types of fidget spinners, received nearly 2 million views on YouTube.

In some of his most popular videos over the last two years, Irwin connects himself to other popular YouTube stars, such as Lisa from the channel LisaandLena and Roman Atwood.

Atwood is actually Irwin’s role model when it comes to YouTube videos. In Irwin’s first video on his channel, he’s wearing a T-shirt with Atwood’s “Smile More” logo across it. Irwin also met Atwood in 2015, long before Irwin’s channel started to take off.

Irwin posted a video of the experience, showing how he and his family woke up at 5:30 a.m., traveled to Ohio and attended Atwood’s meet-and-greet event.

“He kept motivating me and telling me to keep making videos and I would eventually get my numbers up,” Irwin said.

Initially, Irwin’s parents, Bart and Nicole Irwin, were skeptical of Payton’s channel and videos.

“You have to keep an open mind,” Bart said. “When it first started, obviously it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a hobby. Then, when it kind of took off, we were concerned, like ‘is it safe?’”

They did everything they could think to keep Payton safe. They reviewed many of his early videos and ensured their address was never listed anywhere.

Then, one day, Payton filmed a video outside his house, showing only some of the backyard and the basketball hoop. It was, apparently, enough to clue someone in to where he lives, and shortly thereafter a package arrived, filled with gifts for Payton. The experience was an eye-opener, and the family realized they can’t be too careful when ensuring Payton’s many fans don’t know where he lives.

Aside from that one package, they’ve never had any unwelcome visitors due to Payton’s videos, and Payton’s parents said they trust him at this point.

But that trust does come with some warnings, Bart said. When Payton traveled to California last year for a convention, Bart saw a video of another YouTube star acting ridiculous, and Bart warned Payton never to act like that. He added he’s not really worried his son would do anything to get himself in trouble.

“He knows the rules, and he’s a pretty good kid,” Bart said.

Payton’s videos are filled with goofy antics. In one video, Payton offers his younger sister a fake iPhone, attempting to convince her it’s real. For a moment, her eyes widen and she stares at Payton. She quickly catches on, opening the box to find candy.

In one of his more recent videos, he creates holiday-themed pancakes. The way Payton describes his videos, it’s just him “filming random stuff.”

Payton remembers how his channel started taking off. One week in August, 2016, he had 3,000 subscribers. The next week, he had 12,000 subscribers because of his video joking that the YouTube star Lisa from LisaandLena was his girlfriend.

That video received over 336,000 views, something he said none of his friends had ever received. Then, he filmed a video where he acted like he was calling Atwood, and the video received nearly 820,000 views.

“It’s great because I know people are enjoying my content, and they want to subscribe and keep watching my videos,” he said.

Payton has received such a following that now, other YouTubers are making videos about prank calling him, much like how he tried to prank call Roman Atwood.

The popularity is great, Payton said, but it’s not all positive. He has received countless negative comments on his videos, and sometimes students at his school say negative things about his channel. When he was new to YouTube, these comments bothered him, but he learned to look past the negativity and continue filming.

“As you go on, you realize (these comments) don’t really mean anything,” he said. “They could be anywhere in the world, and it doesn’t really matter.”

Payton said he has considered trying to turn his YouTube videos into a career, something his parents said they never even considered as he was growing up. Today, though, more and more of Nicole’s elementary school students are considering similar careers.

“We didn’t have that opportunity at his age,” Nicole said. “But even if he doesn’t become a big star, this is something that will take him far. We’re really proud of him and we think he’s got a bright future.”


Source: Kokomo Tribune


Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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