(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
Looks like Ryan Kaji’s life is not all fun and games right now.
The 8-year-old millionaire, who made his success on YouTube, is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) amid accusations that he didn’t make his fans and viewers aware that he was receiving money from sponsors to promote their toys.
To be clear, Ryan is not named in the paperwork, however, his parents are. The account, Ryan ToysReview, is run by his parents, Shion Guan and his wife, Kieu-Loan (35), who helped the YouTube star reach 21 million subscribers. The young tike makes his success by unboxing toys and sharing his reviews with online audiences. Ryan is worth $22 million and was named YouTube's highest earner by Forbes magazine in 2018.
In a complaint filed to the FTC, consumer watchdog Truth In Advertising accused Ryan of not clearly disclosing paid sponsorship from brands such as Walmart. "It is often difficult to discern the innocent (or sometimes not so innocent ) antics in Ryan ToysReview videos from the sponsored content. And for preschoolers, it is impossible to discern the difference," Truth In Advertising said in the complaint.
They say that 90 percent of the family's videos include a paid-for product that they did not label as a sponsor.
Google, which owns YouTube and takes a 45 percent cut of the ad revenue from influencers, has not made a comment on the complaint to date.
The FTC mentioned that they do not comment on whether it is investigating an individual, company or website. The commission only publishes findings once a probe is completed.
According to the DailyMail, the Kaji family has worked with several brands including Walmart, Chuck E. Cheese, Colgate and Nickelodeon. He currently has a show, Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, that airs on Nick.
The family owns several properties that include a six-bedroom property in Cypress, Texas, worth an estimated $995,000.
The family refutes the claims, stating that they follow the rules strictly. “The well-being of our viewers is always the top priority for us, and we strictly follow all platforms’ terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements,” they said in a statement.
Ryan's mother, Loan, told Moms.com last month: “We are very careful when partnering with brands and always take our time to make sure that they truly fit with Ryan and our family.”
One of his most popular videos, "Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge With Inflatable Water Slide," has 1.8 billion views. The video shows Ryan going down a massive inflatable slide with water at the bottom and trying to find surprise eggs.
Truth In Advertising claims that they are not trying to stop influencers from making money, but to prevent the exploitation of children.
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