At 27, professional gamer Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins has seen enormous success: He's the most popular streamer on Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch, racking up an estimated 226 million streaming views on the site in 2018 (more than double anyone else).
Blevins even broke a Twitch record last year by attracting over 600,000 concurrent viewers by playing "Fortnite" with rapper Drake.
Blevins has over 12.8 million followers on Twitch, 20 million on YouTube, 12 million on Instagram and almost 3.8 million on Twitter, all of whom come to watch him play "Fortnite," the incredibly popular online multiplayer survival game that took the gaming world by storm over the past year.
Those followers are worth a lot of money for Blevins. In September, his manager and wife, Jess Blevins, told CNBC Make It he was making nearly $1 million per month, and on Monday, Blevins told CNN that he earned almost $10 million in 2018 by streaming himself playing "Fortnite" on Twitch and posting videos YouTube. The two sites account for roughly 70 percent of his income, Blevins told CNN.
The rest of his earnings come from a growing list of sponsors that includes Samsung, Red Bull and Uber Eats.
Epic Games' "Fortnite" exploded onto the scene at the end of 2017, and Blevins was one of the game's best players and most active streamers from the jump. Essentially, he became one of the most recognizable faces associated with "Fortnite," which itself has grown into a multibillion-dollar behemoth.
"Ninja," as he's known to his fans, had a meteoric rise in popularity since "Fortnite" launched, with his Twitch following soaring from roughly 500,000 people in September 2017 to nearly 13 million today.
But in the beginning, Blevins was a kid who was really good at gaming, so he was cautious about the industry. "I continued to do well in school and focus on the future of my life" he told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" of his time at Silver Lake College in Wisconsin from 2009 to 2010.
"It was one of those things where if I was doing well in school, putting in the time and effort there, and soccer as well, that I would be rewarded to play as many games as I want," he says. "I maintained my job that I was working at [fast food restaurant] Noodles & Company and I stayed in college while I was doing all of these things."
Even as a kid growing up in Grayslake, Illinois, a suburban town about an hour outside of Chicago, Blevins says he's always had a naturally competitive streak.
"I always want to be the best," he said in a video for Bud Light. "I love competing and I always want to play the best. If I'm not doing well I'll be upset and I'll be raging."