Olajide “KSI” Olatunji is “probably” a millionaire and definitely has a penthouse apartment in London, with plans to airlift a jacuzzi to the roof, as well as a burnt orange Lamborghini and some of the most expensive sneakers you can buy — and he got it all from playing video games.
In a new five-part documentary series on e-sports, VICE reporter Matt Shea met with the rising star at his home. The interview provided some refreshing insights about life as an e-sports celebrity.
“Essentially, I’m a 21-year-old who’s a millionaire through gaming, vlogging, and my online experience,” KSI says on camera. “Yo, I’ll take it!”
As a teenager, Olajide Olatunji played EA Sports’ line of FIFA video games for hours on end in his parents’ home. In 2009, he began uploading footage of him playing and commentating to YouTube, under the username KSIOlajidebt: a combination of a Halo franchise clan, his first name, and “British Telecom.”
After a year, “KSI” — as he became known — garnered 7,000 subscribers. Another year later, that number tripled. His boisterous, goofy nature captured fans around the world.
“A lot of people think being at the top means you have to be the best at a certain game,” KSI tells VICE. “You don’t. It’s more about personality.”
In one of KSI’s most viral videos, he competes against a rival YouTube star, Wroetoshaw, in order to make an in-game trade for Pele, a legendary footballer and an extremely rare player card. The video opens with a montage, filmed on a green screen, of KSI running around the world in a superhero cape. During the match, he screams, chants, leaps out of his seat, trash-talks the opponent, and injures himself in a fit of excitement.
It’s easy to see how fans find him entertaining. (Language is NSFW.)
Eventually, KSI dropped out of school to pursue gaming full-time. He uploads up to 40 videos a month, mostly of FIFA gameplay, and earns money from ads placed on his videos. The more clicks he receives, the bigger his paycheck.
As of March, 8,892,000 people subscribe to his YouTube channel, making it the second-most watched channel in the UK, according to VICE. His videos have captured 1.5 billion views.
With this level of exposure, KSI has had to reel in his “charisma.” In 2013, Microsoft ended its Xbox One endorsement contract with the star after learning of his “rape face” videos, in which KSI turns to the camera, glares, and smirks. It wasn’t the first time a gaming company severed ties with KSI because of his derogatory and sexist content.
Now, KSI lives the sweet life. He moved out of his parents’ house (which he finished paying off) and into a central London high-rise, where he can see beyond the city from his window.
This is the rooftop where he plans to have a jacuzzi delivered by helicopter.
He told The Telegraph last year that he spends his money “quite wisely,” splurging on limited-edition sneakers and sports cars. He loved showing off his gold shoes collection to VICE.
And here’s his orange Lamborghini, another prized possession. He even wrote a rap song called “Lamborghini” (Warning: Lyrics are NSFW).
As the “e-sports star” comes to rival the traditional celebrity model, KSI’s fame and fortune can only grow.
“I’m now a brand. Like, KSI is a brand,” he says. “It’s crazy that it all came from me sitting in my bedroom just making a few FIFA videos.”