The mid 2010s was an edgy time for YouTube. Drama, diss tracks and takedowns ruled the video-sharing platform. There was no longer any room for wholesome old school players like Ryan Higa and iJustine. Enter Ethan Klein. The now 37-year-old found himself the next big thing for gen Zers who were keen to wean themselves off the edgy, profane content that had dominated the platform for so long. As gossip, controversies, and drama reigned supreme, Klein became the official judge, jury, and executioner.
Love him or hate him, Klein was a key player among the online courtroom dramas of YouTubers like Filthy Frank, Tana Mongeau, Shane Dawson and Jenna Marbles. There’s no doubt you would have seen the self-proclaimed ironic king online somewhere, be it from his early days as a satirical drama and reaction channel, to his new life as the face of a hugely successful podcast series.
Far from the most problematic content creator, Klein is still no complete stranger to controversy. So who exactly is the omnipotent leader behind h3h3Productions, and is he really all that innocent?
Klein is an Israeli-American best known today for running the H3 Podcast channel on YouTube alongside his wife and longtime creative collaborator Hila. The channel was launched back in 2017 as a spinoff from their original YouTube endeavour, h3h3Productions. At the time of writing the channel boasts an impressive six million subscribers, with its back catalogue of videos routinely pulling in millions of views and high engagement.
The channel has dabbled in pretty much every kind of content out there, from gaming videos to reactions of the worst kind of influencers YouTube had to offer. This quickly proved successful for the married duo, and saw them continue to target the likes of cringy Facebook content, as well as fake prank channels.
The peak of h3h3Productions has to be the iconic “VAPE NATION” video which spawned many a meme. You couldn’t go anywhere online without seeing Klein in his iconic weed get up, or people spamming comment sections with #VAPENAYSH. It’s safe to say that the millennial dominated the mid 2010s YouTube landscape with his memeable videos and delicious takedowns.
Klein’s biggest break however, was the show’s podcast, a venture that has proved immensely successful for the entire production team. The H3 Podcast has attracted stars such as Post Malone, Joji, and even Jackass stuntman Steve-O.
Since then the vodcast has amassed a hefty following on its own separate channel—the current subscriber count is a solid 2.8 million—with podcast uploads frequently hitting views in the millions. Today, the podcast and its spin offs After Dark and Off The Rails, discuss all manner of topics, from internet drama, to world happenings.
Ethan Klein and acclaimed rapper and singer Post Malone are the last two people I’d expect to see hanging out in a room together. But sure enough, the two actually had quite a strong friendship, one that appears to be on the back-burner as of late.
The friendship between the songwriter and internet memer began in 2017, when Klein uploaded a video titled: “Making Music with Post Malone.” In the 13 minute-long video, the creators can be seen giggling and getting on as they mess around in the studio.
The rapport is obviously natural and it’s clear that the pair legitimately get on—so much so that Post Malone would subsequently end up gracing an early episode of Klein’s podcast, putting it firmly on the map. Fans of the two personalities have been left wondering if something happened between them, given a severe lack of Post Malone in the H3 multiverse in recent years.
Of course, as we know, internet beef is an insidious—and often untrue—thing and so the H3 host has always made sure to quickly dispel any rumours that the two had fallen out, or that there was any bad blood between them. There is thankfully zero drama here. Life is busy and their paths just haven’t had time to cross as of late. This should come as no surprise in relation to Klein too, who as well as running his podcast, has been busy raising two children.
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Recognition for Klein and his podcast grew even more following his decision to collaborate in 2020 with the un-cancellable actor, singer, fast talker, mukbanger, beauty blogger and overall OG controversial influencer Trisha Paytas. During the pair’s working relationship, on the podcast aptly titled Frenemies, Klein and Paytas butted heads a number of times. There were dramatic walk offs, insults thrown, and overall Domino’s-infused chaos—and it provided some of the most entertaining online content netizens had ever seen.
In 2019, a year before Frenemies began, Klein called out Paytas in a video which touched on the idea of Instagram versus reality. In the video, Klein called Paytas the “poster child” for fake online personas, something that the h3h3 creator had always been highly critical of. Paytas responded on Twitter by calling Klein “sickening” for the attack, and pleading with his wife to divorce him “ASAP.”
Despite an odd tweet from May of 2019 from Paytas asking to be on the H3 Podcast, they continued to go back and forth over Twitter, with the feud being at its worst when Paytas briefly came out as transgender—a move which many criticised as insensitive to the LGBTQIA+ community. The self-proclaimed troll has often said they thrive off attention, which led people to believe the video was insincere in nature.
It should be noted however that Paytas has reaffirmed on a number of occasions that they do identity as gender fluid and so it’s safe to say that there may be some authenticity to the claims. Despite this, Paytas still saw fit to delete the video and apologise.
So, the question is: How did the pair go from dominating one of the most vicious internet beefs of all time to hosting a hugely successful podcast that routinely pulled in millions of views?
The potential exposure from having his internet rival on the show was enough for Klein to rekindle the possibility of Paytas appearing on the H3 Podcast and, sure enough, after some goading on the app, which had not yet been acquired by Elon Musk, the fast food fanatic was finally on the show. Not to say that they’d completely made up, but the rivalry made for fun, combative and divisive conversation—something that audiences could not get enough of.
Who doesn’t love to see enemies unite and go head to head in a long-form podcast? Paytas’ initial appearance gave birth to a show that was so unlike any other podcast on the platform. The pair laughed and participated in pop culture quizzes, sure, but they also created some of the most horrifying and world-altering dramatic moments ever witnessed in YouTube history.
Fans flocked to the site every week, telling friends that they hoped this week’s episode would remain civil, while secretly praying that an argument would break out.
The show often dealt with Paytas’ struggles with mental health owing to a diagnosis with borderline personality disorder, as well as Klein’s own anxieties around his autism diagnosis. Although praised for the open discussion of their mental health, much of their content together revolved around Paytas exploding in frustration, more often than not thanks to Klein’s ability to push their buttons. But, however aggravated they got, the influencers always came back—until they didn’t…
To some extent, it’s surprising that the show even lasted as long as it did. Users would often overlook and almost relish in the controversial comments Paytas was liable to spout—such as their unethical and shocking takes on Judaism, or the Holocaust.
The podcast’s untimely end came following an argument between the two towards the last minute of the podcast’s 39th episode, which revolved around the show’s budget and their revenue split. The episode should have been an easy session. Both were dressed up as characters from The Addams Family, and the focus was on equally controversial YouTuber Gabbi Hanna—easy pickings for the duo.
Unfortunately, however, the pair were simply unable to reconcile after this particular blowout. Paytas stormed off and the show finally came to an end.
To make the situation that bit stranger, and in many ways quite upsetting, Paytas is currently married to Klein’s brother-in-law, Moses Hascmon. It’s been rumoured online that Hascmon is no longer on speaking terms with his sister or Klein.
With a successful channel and podcast to boot, you might be wondering just how much the Israeli-American is worth? Look no further, as we’ve got you covered.
Klein’s net worth is said to be roughly $25 million, with his monthly earnings said to be around the $630,000 mark. This wealth comes from Klein and his wife’s successful channels, as well as Teddy Fresh, a clothing label started by Hila in 2017.
Klein was sued in 2016 by Matt Hosseinzadeh, an American YouTube personality who goes by MattHossZone. Hoss’ content is bizarre to say the least, and often revolves around him interacting with attractive women in very, very strange scripted scenarios. You really have to see it for yourself:
h3h3 did what they do best and naturally filmed a reaction video to the bizarre viral clips. Hosseinzadeh disapproved and after “politely” asking h3h3 to remove the content, to which they refused, he filed a lawsuit against the couple, claiming that “fair use” of his content was breached.
The news that the Kleins were being sued and subsequently having to defend their right to freedom of speech caught the attention of YouTube news personality Philip DeFranco, who began a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the couple to defend themselves against Hosseinzadeh. Over $100,000 was raised and the money now sits in a retainer at law firm Morrison & Lee LLP, being used to help people defend against fair use allegations.
It should come as no surprise that their right to fair use and subsequently freedom of speech was upheld by the American judicial system, with US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruling that the commentary video constituted “fair use as a matter of law,” with the video being described as “quintessential comment and criticism.”
Klein can’t resist a chance to satirise those he doesn’t agree with, especially if they’re right wing commentators. There have been numerous attempts to cancel the YouTuber, but none appear to have stuck—not even temporary suspensions from YouTube can kill the H3 machine.
Do you remember the great blue checkmark parody war that began on Twitter in late 2022 as the SpaceX CEO began to take the reins of the company? The option to pay a subscription fee for a blue checkmark led to hilarious impersonations of celebrities on the bird app.
Klein couldn’t resist jumping on the meme-train and took to impersonating Musk, albeit with it being clearly stated in his profile that the impersonation was parody, as per the new rules.
Despite this, Musk wasn’t a fan of his actions and saw fit to suspend the creator in November. Klein was just one of many accounts banned (and swiftly unbanned the following month), but it still serves as a grim reminder to the fragile egos of the uber-rich.
Klein also faced heavy criticism and suspensions from YouTube. In May 2022, the H3 Podcast channel received a temporary suspension from YouTube after the host suggested someone “should bomb” a National Rifle Association conference.
In October of 2022, they again received another suspension and a strike from YouTube after Klein said that right-wing political commentator Ben Shapiro should be “gassed first, or last.” in the event of another Holocaust.
In spite of criticism for his actions, Klein voiced feelings that the punishment was unjust and that “a few white supremacists successfully lobbied YouTube to suspend me, a Jewish dual citizen of Israel and USA, for antisemitism.” It’s clear that Klein is driven by his views and refuses to hold back when voicing his feelings, especially when political ideology is on the line.
H3h3Productions has firmly cemented itself as a YouTube staple and, in spite of Klein’s tendency to poke fun and hold nothing back when criticising others on the platform, it’s unrealistic to imagine an internet world where this particular creator doesn’t exist.
Some people quit smoking for their New Year’s resolution, others join the gym. YouTuber Nikocado Avocado, however, has the aim of hitting 400 pounds (just over 181 kilos). Chances are you’ve seen the famous mukbanger’s content recommended by the YouTube algorithm—known for his aggressive outbursts, his jarring persona and gluttony.
It’s the fuel that’s propelled him to stardom. It’s his identity, his brand—from KFC to Burger King, you name it and over the five years of his YouTube career, he’s eaten it. It’s what makes Nikocado Avocado (real name Nicholas Perry) stand out among the sea of countless other mukbang content creators. Let’s just say, if mukbang was pop music, he’d be Beyoncé.
Yet despite his success on the surface, Nikocado Avocado’s journey has a darker underbelly—a story of addiction to engagement that is leading him to an early grave. To understand how he got to this point, we have to look back.
Only half a decade ago, Nikocado Avocado was a vegan vlogger living a modest life in Colombia. At the time, he weighed between 150 to 160 pounds, a stark contrast to his weight now, which is approximately 350 pounds. On 5 October 2016, the first of many mukbang videos were uploaded to his channel—and while he made the decision to start eating meat, he would still maintain a relatively clean diet.
At the time, the content creator stuck out like a sore thumb in the mukbang community, as in the beginning, these types of videos were almost entirely dominated by women creators. During his early career, Nikocado Avocado would almost always include his pet parrot in his videos while he ate—a novel and slightly absurd characteristic which would assist him in standing out from the crowd.
In the early stages of his mukbang career, he seemed to be relatively unscathed by his diet. According to research on the psychology of mukbang videos, this type of content impacts the “viewers’ perception of food consumption and thinness because mukbangers who were very thin and slim consumed very large portions of food and did not gain weight.” This is no doubt a spell which Nikocado Avocado found himself under—claiming to be a long-term fan of mukbang videos, it’s plausible that he was convinced he was immune to obesity caused by mukbang eating.
This was short-lived, however. When he weighed himself in May 2017, he’d gained 50 pounds. The problem is, instead of seeing this as a genuine health concern, he instead integrated it into his content with the goal of gaining both more weight and more views. In another upload titled “I’m getting fat & don’t know why,” he would state that his weight gain was “a medical mystery” that it was just “water weight” or “stress.”
By the time he hit the 300 pounds mark in April 2020, his mindset had visibly changed. No longer was Nikocado Avocado claiming any ambition to change his ways—instead, he’d claim he passed the point of no return and that it was easier to embrace his weight for views rather than going through the effort of losing it. This only amplified his viewership—as his weight continued to grow, so did his ad revenue.
By April 2021, with more than five million subscribers across six channels, he’d earned enough money to move into a $2.3 million penthouse flat. A comment left on the video announcing his new move states, “enjoy your house bro. You got not much time left.” It encapsulates the dilemma Nikocado Avocado faces: the exchange of health for money. Or, on a deeper level: the exchange of health for meaning.
But how has the YouTuber amassed such a vast and loyal fanbase? According to Kagan Kircaburun—a psychology researcher at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) who specialises in behavioural addictions online and is the first academic researcher into the addictive behaviour of mukbang watching—the answer is not black and white.
“According to our research, there were many reasons why people watch mukbang videos. We pinned down six main reasons why people are drawn to the videos: entertainment; sexual gratification; obtaining healthy eating gratification; discovering different foods—particularly Asian cuisine; using mukbang to escape from real-life problems or unpleasant feelings; and, finally, to watch their favourite YouTuber,” Kircaburun told SCREENSHOT.
That said, the researcher also added that, in some circumstances, mukbang watching can have therapeutic value. He recalled a time when he interviewed a woman who watches mukbang videos to help her deal with the symptoms of anorexia. “It made her feel relieved, reducing anxiety and helping her eat,” Kircaburun noted. “Listening to the sounds of eating, as well as watching the facial expressions of mukbang creators, can also have a therapeutic effect for those dealing with eating disorders,” he continued.
This echoes the views of mukbang video creator Rammseth Mukbang, who noted that watching someone “eat a certain meal can soothe people who are on a diet—like they are ‘eating in spirit’. I’ve had feedback that my video helps people after a stressful day. We are entertainment, but there is also a human touch… We bring comfort to viewers, we make a positive impact.”
Emily, a 26-year-old student living in Philadelphia—and self-proclaimed “lover of mukbang”—highlighted how it was the “relatability and human aspect” that draws her to mukbang content. She shared that she often watches mukbang videos while eating too and that “reading the comments helps me feel like part of a wider community.”
This is also something Rammseth Mukbang touched upon, describing the online community as “flawed yet beautiful.” In his experience, there is a significant disconnect between larger and smaller creators. “Bigger channels naturally move away from the community. Between smaller channels, you develop some fun banter and real connections. You all want to grow, so there is a sense of camaraderie.”
Like with most things in life there are always two sides to the coin—the good always comes with the bad. Mukbang is no different. Kircaburun warned that there are numerous ways in which watching this type of content can lead to unhealthy behaviour. Not only can the videos “affect someone’s eating and table manners negatively,” it can also lead to “some adolescent and young people becoming obese as a result of watching the content for a long time,” he explained.
“Making these videos involves consuming a very high capacity of food, some creators are professional eaters. But young people see this and think it’s normal. This can lead to a warped perception of food quantity and ultimately obesity,” Kircaburun added. Nikocado Avocado’s story is an embodiment of this, a reflection of the impact mukbang making can have on the health of its creators (and viewers too). A hyperbole and amplified reflection? Perhaps, but a reflection nonetheless—and something which urgently needs addressing.
“On one hand it’s a success story, at least from a marketing perspective,” noted Paul Smith, CEO of Baked Bean Marketing—an online marketing agency that specialises in managing high profile influencers—when speaking to SCREENSHOT. “In five years, he’s amassed almost three million followers and hundreds of millions of views.”
But at what cost? It’s clear Nikocado Avocado has bitten more than he can chew. Smith added, “On the flip side, he’s 300 pounds more than he weighed when he started making videos. You have to ask whether all that money he’s generated from this brand is worth it. Let’s not kid ourselves, a lot of this is about money—but is it worth the health implications? That’s the burning question.”
Given the fact that obesity is linked to more than sixty other chronic diseases, the answer to that question is blatantly obvious. So why does he continue to grow bigger? Smith described this as a snowball effect—a damaging cycle caused by YouTubers “all fighting for the same view.” He explained, “You make one video mukbang video today where you eat a certain amount of food. Tomorrow, to keep up engagement, you’ll have to put out a video even better than that. In Nikocado Avocado’s case, for instance, it’ll be a bigger portion of food. It’s a never-ending spiral.”
This is on the mind of every online content creator. It’s the toxic nature of the internet that, unfortunately, keeps us all hooked—tapping into our primal drive to keep growing engagement and, ultimately, feel valued. The Nikocado Avocado case can be likened to clout-chasers hungry enough for views to throw themselves on top of trains for TikTok views or fall off cliffs for a selfie.
This isn’t a secret either, social media apps are designed to be like this. Often in our mind’s eye, when we think of social media addiction, emphasis is placed on the consumer, but it impacts creators too. Akin to the addictive behaviour of doomscrolling, Nikocado Avocado (and most similar YouTubers sacrificing their health for viewership) are showing tell-tale signs of an addiction disorder. With Nikocado Avocado’s story in particular, his deadly habits have been cemented through an unmistakable brand: with extravagant, violent freakouts and a merch empire of T-shirts that read “you made me do it” or “it’s just water weight.”
Smith “absolutely” believes that this snowball effect can breed addictive behaviour. “If you make three to five thousand pounds from advertising revenue—sometimes five to twenty thousand—off the back of your videos, ask yourself: would you stop?” And I agree. It’s easy to paint him as the perpetrator here—an individual who has damaged his health through the consequence of his own actions.
But that viewpoint is narrow-minded. Instead, it’s better to think of him as the victim—a person who’s dug himself a hole he can’t escape from. This rings true when you consider how his diet is not just drastically altering his body, but his mind too.
Behavioural science experts believe that “all entities capable of stimulating a person can be addictive; and whenever “a habit changes into an obligation, it can be considered as an addiction.” Nikocado Avocado has created a situation where his habit of eating vast quantities of food in front of a camera has turned into an obligation. To treat such an addictive disorder requires a multi-level approach: from personal support to specialised training. But to what extent should YouTube and similar social network channels step in—and do they at all?
Luckily, the internet isn’t as Wild West as it was 15 years ago. YouTube does have policies that every content creator has to abide by otherwise their videos will be removed, but these are nowhere near as stringent as those on traditional television networks, Smith further explained. “It’s a completely different ballgame to mainstream television. I believe there should be more control over what’s posted online. YouTube doesn’t take action 95 per cent of the time—unless it’s explicitly dangerous—so where does it end?”
Perhaps it’s the mere-exposure effect, but from researching his journey over the last few months, I’ve developed a soft spot for the guy. Indeed, Nikocado Avocado is the manifestation of modern-day internet culture—the good and the bad. He represents how new media, unlike traditional TV, has allowed any creative who sees a gap in the market to make a success of themselves, just with a camera and an internet connection. On the other hand, he embodies the worst of what digital culture has to offer: an addiction to engagement which can lead to a death sentence. Until measures are taken, from outside sources and Nikocado Avocado himself, he’ll continue to eat himself into an early grave… One mukbang at a time.
In July 2022, reports of the YouTuber’s rumoured death flooded the internet. “Apparently Nikocado Avocado is dead? Honestly I don’t believe that. Sometimes he gets offline to probably prepare more of his atrocious mukbang videos,” wrote one Twitter user at the time.
The unfounded claims appeared on TikTok too and a YouTube Shorts too, with one clip titled “Nikocado Avocado Passed Away (Trigger Warning), pray for his family” trending on the platform. The video has since been deleted.
The rumours that he has passed away stemmed from the fact that he hadn’t been very active on social media recently, leading many to suspect that something bad had happened to him. On 27 October however, Nikocado Avocado shared yet another video on his YouTube channel, in turn reassuring all of his fans.