Jimmy Donaldson, better known as YouTube superstar MrBeast, sued the “ghost kitchen” company that operated his MrBeast Burger virtual fast-food chain, seeking to end the deal — alleging, among other things, that the burgers it served were called “disgusting,” “revolting” and “inedible” and damaged his reputation. Now the company is countersuing.
Virtual Dining Concepts and Celebrity Virtual Dining (VDC) are suing the YouTuber and his Beast Investments for failing to honor his contractual obligations, as well as intentional tortious interference. Damages are alleged to exceed $100 million.
VDC filed their suit — obtained by Variety — on Monday morning in the Supreme Court of the State of New York for the County of New York.
The suit is in response to Donaldson suing Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC) and its parent company last month, seeking to terminate the deal for his restaurant chain, alleging, among other things, that the burgers it served were called “disgusting,” “revolting” and “inedible” and damaged his reputation. Last week, VDC fired back calling the YouTuber’s lawsuit “meritless” and “ill-advised,” claiming that Donaldson had breached his agreement with the virtual restaurant company and recently attempted to negotiate a new deal “to serve his own monetary interests” and “give up more of the brand to him to terminate his “existing contractual obligations without cause.”
Now, the company has formalized its response in the form of a nine-figure lawsuit.
“This case is about a social media celebrity who believes his fame means that his word does not matter, that the facts do not matter, and that he can renege and breach his contractual obligations without consequence,” the suit states. “He is mistaken.”
Variety has reached out to a representative for Donaldson for comment.
VDC has retained Mathew Rosengart and Richard A. Edlin of Greenberg Traurig LLC to represent its interests in the dispute.
The new suit claims that Donaldson’s breaches of the parties’ agreements and interference with business dealings have damaged the reputation of MrBeast Burger and VDC, turned away customers and ruined relationships with suppliers and vendors, impacting the bottom lines of hundreds of restaurants around the world.
“This wanton conduct has caused Plaintiffs to suffer enormous financial harm,” the suit says.
The complaint claims that Donaldson has failed to comply with his contractual publicity and promotional obligations, has failed to publicly support the brand and has undermined it by making “untruthful or misleading” statements. Lawyers allege that the massive YouTube star has made “disparaging comments” about MrBeast Burgers and VDC.
The suit contains examples of tweets from Donaldson, some that appear to have been deleted from the social media star’s platform, where Donaldson writes to his millions of fans that he wishes to close his burger business and says that “the company I partnered with won’t let me stop even though it’s terrible for my brand.” The YouTube star wrote, “Young beast signed a bad deal.” Another time, he wrote, “If I had the ability to close it, I would have done so a long time ago sadly. Sometimes when ur young you sign shit deal.”
The lawsuit states, “Like any party to a contract, Donaldson must be held to his word, and held accountable for his contractual breaches and other misconduct.”
Later, it states, “Donaldson’s baseless and unlawful disparagement had the intended effect: MrBeast Burger’s reputation was materially damaged if not destroyed, customers abandoned the Brand, Plaintiffs’ hard-won relationships with vendors, partners, and suppliers were shattered, causing damages to Plaintiffs that, according to the evidence and Donaldson’s own statements regarding the value of MrBeast Burger, are in the nine-figure range.”
In Donaldson’s original lawsuit against VDC, he blamed the company for poor food quality and said that the majority of MrBeast Burger virtual restaurants have negative culinary reviews from fans who are “deeply disappointed by the fact that MrBeast would put his name on this product.” The lawsuit said that VDC “has caused material, irreparable harm to the MrBeast brand and MrBeast’s reputation,” and claimed that while the business has made millions of dollars, he has “not received a dime.” In response, last week, VDC asserted that the YouTube star’s brand grew “exponentially” in part “because of the MrBeast Burger brand itself.” The company also said they take “quality and customer reviews very seriously” and that “any negative customer reviews reflect the experience and opinion of a very small minority of MrBeast Burger customers.”
The MrBeast Burger brand launched in December 2020 and expanded to 1,700 global locations by the end of 2022. Aside from one physical restaurant, the burger chain operates as a virtual brand run out of partner kitchens with orders available for delivery and pick up only via food-delivery services.