- Jessica Blevins, 26, is the wife and manager of the Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, one of the best “Fortnite” players in the world.
- Jessica is one of the reasons Tyler is so successful – she manages his entire business, including coordinating the handful of people who are part of “Team Ninja.”
- We talked to Jessica over the phone to learn more about her daily life, how things came to be, and where she and Tyler are going next.
Jessica Blevins is just 26 years old, but she has an incredibly tough job: managing her 27-year-old husband, Tyler, who is one of the best video-game players in the world.
Tyler, who goes by “Ninja” on Twitch and social media, spends about 12 hours a day streaming video games in front of thousands of people on Twitch, Amazon’s live-streaming service. Most of the time, he’s playing “Fortnite,” which has been the biggest game of 2018 by far. A recent report estimated that the free-to-play game has generated over $US1 billion in revenue.
As the best player of the world’s most popular game, Tyler constantly has eyes on his Ninja stream. But behind the scenes, Jessica is the one making it all happen. She’s up early in the morning making phone calls, answering emails, and coordinating Tyler’s entire enterprise, which she calls “Team Ninja.”
“We want him known in Hollywood. We want him known in the world of sports,” Jessica told Business Insider in a phone interview. “We want him as a household name, so we’re trying to move him from just gaming to everywhere.”
The week I spoke to Jessica, she and Tyler had just returned from attending the 2018 ESPY Awards, where they walked the red carpet and sat among celebrities, including the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, the pop star Ciara, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Jessica said that attending the ESPYs put the couple’s recent success into perspective.
“When [Tyler] grew so big on YouTube and Twitch, I thought it was exciting, but I thought that’s where it was going to end,” she said. “I didn’t think all the sudden he’d be meeting celebrities and we’d be invited to the ESPYs. These celebrities are wanting to play with my husband. That’s insane.”
The daily grind
At home, Jessica and Tyler don’t share many meals together.
Jessica wakes up first and is up around 6 a.m. She takes out the dogs – two Yorkies – makes coffee, and hits the computer. It’s all about tending to emails and making phone calls before Tyler wakes up, but he’s normally asleep for a few more hours, as he goes to sleep later; most nights, he’ll stay up until 1 or 2 a.m., streaming on Twitch.
Around 9 a.m., Tyler wakes up, and he and Jessica share a good half hour together. They have coffee, discuss business, or just talk about how their nights were – “couple-y things,” Jessica said.
“Sometimes when he goes live at night, I don’t have a chance to talk to him until the morning,” she said. “So if I get any new pitches or things I need to run by him, I’ll do that before he starts streaming.”
But once Ninja gets online, he’s on for a long time. Tyler will typically stream on Twitch from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. During that time, Jessica handles errands: getting groceries, taking care of their dogs, and handling more phone calls and emails. But once 4 p.m. hits, it’s officially “break time” for both of them.
Jessica feels strongly about break time.
“For a while when we were dating, something had to change, because he’d just wake up and stream all day until he went to bed,” Jessica told me. “And it’s like: This isn’t a relationship – we don’t really have time together. He just didn’t have a schedule. So the best thing he ever did was set a schedule.”
Jessica says the four-hour break, from 4 to 8 p.m., is “good for our relationship, and it’s good for him.” But at 8, Tyler gets back online and “streams until whenever,” she said.
As for Jessica, she’ll answer even more emails – there are always more emails – and often fall asleep on the couch with her two dogs. When Tyler gets offline, he’ll wake her up and take everyone to bed.
It almost didn’t happen
Jessica Goch and Tyler Blevins almost never met.
In 2010, when Jessica was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, her boyfriend at the time invited her to attend a “Halo” tournament called Focus Fire with him in Lacrosse.
She almost didn’t go. The week before the tournament, Jessica broke up with her boyfriend. And Lacrosse was a 3-1/2-hour drive from Whitewater. And the event was taking place during a terrible snowstorm.
“I found out later that Tyler had to drive an extra hour through the snowstorm and almost didn’t go to the tournament,” Jessica said.
And even though Jessica ended up going to the tournament – after much urging from her ex-boyfriend to support him despite the breakup – and met Tyler, they still couldn’t get together yet.
Tyler “had a girlfriend at the time still, so we didn’t really talk, just kept in touch once in a while throughout college,” Jessica said. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful and reach out. But I’d creep on his Facebook every once in a while.”
About three years later, Jessica and Tyler reconnected – over Twitter, of all places. She tweeted at him, and he immediately direct-messaged her back. They exchanged numbers, started texting, and made moves to meet in person.
“Since he’s a Lions fan and I’m a Packers fan, we had a bet: If the Lions won, I’d go visit him, but if the Packers beat the Lions, he’d have to come visit me first,” she said. “The Packers won, so he came to visit me at college, and we started dating right away.”
Five years later, and Tyler and Jessica have just celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary.
Understanding the business from the inside out
It’s not easy to be married to your manager. But Jessica understands Tyler, and, more importantly, she understands the nature of streaming video games on Twitch.
After all, Jessica is a Twitch streamer in her own right.
Jessica, aka “JGhosty,” has nearly 200 videos on Twitch and over 320,000 followers on the platform. Her first videos were posted in October 2014, when she streamed popular games like “Slender Man” and “Minecraft.” Eventually, she started doing what Twitch calls “IRL” streams, where you livestream what you’re doing – creating, painting, dancing, or, in Jessica’s case, cooking.
“You have to continuously find new recipes, which isn’t always the easiest thing when you do a couple of cooking streams per week,” she said. “It’s a big process.”
Jessica acknowledges that she initially tried Twitch streaming because of Tyler. She wanted to understand why it would take so long for her boyfriend to respond to her texts while he was doing that.
“I started streaming, and the very first day I streamed, I didn’t text him for over an hour,” Jessica said. “I literally responded, ‘I get it. I’m sorry.'”
Over time, Jessica’s role in Tyler’s life has evolved from girlfriend to wife and full-on business manager. But it started naturally, out of a desire to see her partner succeed.
“Living with him, I started to see him responding to these potentially really good opportunities super quickly so he can just go live,” she said. “He wouldn’t be capitalising things – he’d be sending super quick, almost like text-type stuff in emails. And I was like, ‘You have to be professional with this.’ He was like, ‘I don’t have time. I need to stream.’ So at that moment was when I was like, OK, yes, I stream, but I’m 100% able to start managing him. Those companies deserve to have professional responses and know that somebody’s taking the time to read them and work with them.”
In 2016, before Ninja became synonymous with Twitch and “Fortnite,” Tyler was just playing “Halo” and beginning to dabble in another kind of battle-royale game called “H1Z1.” He had a couple thousand Twitter followers – nowhere close to the 3 million he has now.
So Jessica needed to bring business to them. She would write emails to big companies like HyperX or Alienware and pitch Tyler. She would get on the phone with them and talk about how they could make a sponsorship work.
“Now it has really done a 180, because it’s endless amounts of companies reaching out to us to work with Tyler,” she said. “Before, I had all the time in the world to do it. Now we need more people on Team Ninja to help take care of these emails and making calls.”
Jessica says it hasn’t always been easy being Tyler’s manager. At times, she says, she has to have tough conversations as his manager and not as his wife.
But speaking as Tyler’s wife and not his manager, Jessica says she has no problem with how much he plays video games.
“I look at it as: He’s not playing video games all day; he’s working all day,” she said. “And I have so much more respect for him, and I’m so proud of him, because I get to say my husband works all day, he works so hard, and he really does so much for our family.
“So it’s not hard for me at all. I giggle. I laugh every day. He’s funny, and I get to hear his streams first-hand at the house. He keeps things so fun, and without the stream and how hard he’s worked, we wouldn’t be blessed with the life we’ve had.”
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