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Lockdown boost for Island YouTube stars

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AS governments and businesses deal with the devastating impact of Covid-19, a handful of young local entrepreneurs are among a new breed of internet superstars around the world enjoying a bonanza.

ChrisMD trying to score against his cat, Meownuel Neuer

They have also been using their fame to raise money to support those on the front line of the coronavirus response.

Lockdown has meant millions of people spending more time online looking for entertaining videos and that has been good news for YouTube and social media stars.

These so-called YouTubers and ‘influencers’ can earn a fortune by attracting huge numbers of viewers to watch their videos without having to leave their homes – and sometimes their bedrooms. They are paid by the internet sites which sell advertising around the content posted by users.

Many have regular audiences running into millions and are as famous as film stars to young people who have grown up in the digital age.

One of the most successful Island internet celebrities is Chris Dixon (23), who grew up in St John. YouTuber Chris, known to his global army of fans as ChrisMD, made his name by videoing himself playing and talking about the football computer game FIFA. A member of St John FC, he also posts videos of himself playing football and funny videos.

One of his latest, posted this month, features Chris playing football with his cat, which is in goal and shows off some amazing saves. It has clocked up almost nine million views on Twitter alone. It has also been shared by Bayern Munich’s official social media channels because Chris named the cat Meownuel Neuer after the team’s goalie Manuel Neuer.

Chris has since admitted the video was a fake as part of a week-long experiment to show that not everything you see online is real. He said he never expected the world to believe his cat was the second coming of England goalkeeper Gordon Banks and he knew the prank had got out of hand when he started being contacted by global news platforms.

Chris has also helped raise more than £44,000 for the NHS Covid-19 Urgent Appeal in a game of FIFA.

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He wrote on Twitter: ‘Unreal from everyone. Roped as many people into it as possible – whoever concedes a goal on FIFA donates £1,000.’

Chris has 914,000 followers on Twitter, 4.9 million subscribers to his ChrisMD YouTube channel and 175,000 on his second Chris Dixon channel.

In 2018, a video of Chris interviewing Cristiano Ronaldo notched up almost 18 million views.

Chris is now managed by his father, Adrian, a former Jersey teacher.

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Another Islander who has become a household name among millennials is internet prankster Kristen Hanby (27), who grew up in Gorey. He posts videos of himself playing tricks on his brother, sisters, mother and grandmother – dubbed the Hanby Gang and ‘the craziest family on the internet’.

Some of his most popular videos have attracted audiences of millions, with one reaching 29 million. Internet reports suggest that he is a millionaire.

Since lockdown started, he has been recording pranks at home with his family, including putting a paddling pool covered in a throw where the sofa was and watching his family sit on it, putting disguises on his sleeping gran, jokes involving tomato ketchup and salt, and good old-fashioned custard-pie-in-the-face pranks with a twist. Many have been watched close to a million times already.

Andy Sibcy

By Andy Sibcy
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