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YouTube says it’s shutting down for 10 years to pick a winner

The April Fools prank has already caused some consternation.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 1, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 7:58 pm CDT

If you ever uploaded a video on YouTube, congratulations! You’ve just been entered into a contest for the world’s best video, and they won’t be accepting anymore entries after midnight.

Or, more likely, you’ve just been pranked.

YouTube quietly released a video titled “YouTube’s ready to select a winner” a day early while many are in the middle of enjoying their Easter dinner.

“We started YouTube in 2005 as a contest with a simple goal to find the best video in the world,” YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar said. “We had no idea we’d get such a great response.”

Kamangar explained that YouTube, which currently gets approximately 4 billion views daily (and has 1 billion unique users monthly) will go offline after midnight so that they can begin to narrow down the winner, but don’t expect a winner to be announced anytime soon. Over 70 hours of footage is uploaded every minute, so they don’t plan to announce a winner until they relaunch the site featuring only the winning video in 2023.

A group of 30,000 staff technicians will review the billions of videos that have been reviewed by a panel of film critics, YouTube celebrities, and “some of our most prolific commenters.”

Even some of the judges, which include Antoine Dodson, Amber Lee Ettinger, iJustine, and the Fine Brothers, have a stake in the contest and pled their case for their videos to be picked.

“I’d better win,” said Matt Harding, who is behind the “Where the Hell is Matt” channel. “Otherwise, all those years travelling the world were just an expensive waste of time.”

Kamangar stressed that Psy’s “Gangnam Style” had just as much of a chance to win as a video that features a man feeding a duck.

The winner of the contest will take home Internet glory as well as an mp3 player that clips to a sleeve and $500 toward their next creative endeavor.

“While your work’s finished, ours is just beginning,” YouTube competition director Tim Liston said. “It’s gonna be an exciting decade.”

Many have already fallen for YouTube’s prank, but if you weren’t already cautious about any big tech news that comes out around April 1, look no further than the video description. Once you get past the credits for all of the YouTubers featured and videos used, there’s a final message from YouTube: “By the way… April Fools! ;-)”

Photo via YouTube/YouTube

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*First Published: Apr 1, 2013, 9:14 am CDT