Ninja Becomes The First Gamer On ESPN Magzine Cover

Ninja - ESPN Cover

The popular Fortnite streamer, Ninja has made gaming history by becoming the first gamer to appear on the cover of the famous sports publication, The ESPN Magazine.

Tyler Blevins

It’s an exciting time to be a competitive gamer. eSports has been considered as a rising profession for a number of years but in the last twelve months or so, things have truly exploded in popularity. Dota 2’s The International and The Overwatch League are both proving to be tremendously attractive prospects for sponsors and merchandisers just as much as for fans and players.

There has been the talk of including eSports as an Olympic event and this month, eSports took another step into mainstream culture with a simple magazine cover. ESPN is one of the most historic and well-respected sports journalism companies on the planet. It has reported on eSports for a number of years but things stepped up this month when The ESPN Magazine featured Ninja as its cover star.

Real name Tyler Blevins, Ninja has become a hugely popular figure in the gaming community, mostly for his time streaming Twitch but this isn’t his first foray into competitive gaming. Ninja is a former professional Halo player and streamer who later turned his attention to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. That all changed when, back in September 2017, Ninja switched to Fortnite.

His personal popularity exploded along with that of Epic’s title. That came to a head back in March when he streamed alongside the Canadian rapper, Drake as well as musician Travis Scott and the NFL player, JuJu Smith-Schuster. It was a record-breaking day for Twitch just as much as it was for the Chicago-born Blevins personally. Ninja achieved the highest concurrent viewer count in the platform’s history.

His influence continued to grow but was not restricted to Twitch. His social media following exploded, particularly on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and that has all had an impact on his financial situation. Back in March, Forbes estimated that Blevins was raking in around $500,000 per month. In their interview with Ninja, ESPN has the estimate set higher, around the $750,000 mark per month.

Ninja personally may be keeping the real figure close to his chest but it’s undoubtedly an astronomical amount of money. Ninja has effectively become an overnight millionaire and one wonders how somebody would react to that amount of money. Research by Betway Casino has found that around 13% of people would spend on a luxury holiday before anything else if they were to become overnight millionaires. It’s a luxury which Ninja isn’t affording, as he discussedin his historic ESPN cover interview.


“The more breaks [streamers] take,” Ninja said, “the less they stream, the less they’re relevant.

“When I’m not streaming, I have time to reflect on all the growth, and I don’t like that. I’d rather just be home playing.

“I’m like, ‘I haven’t played a celebrity in a while. I haven’t done something big in a while. Is it because I’m slowing down?’ When I’m home, there’s no time to think about that.

“So many people get content. So many people stop when they’re at the top. They’ll let someone take their place because they’re relaxing. That’s not going to happen.”

It’s clearly something which Ninja has thought about in detail. He is the most popular figure playing the most popular game on the planet right now but that won’t always be the case. So, how much longer will Ninja be streaming for?

“Until my family is taken care of,” Blevins went on

“Say this ends tomorrow, we don’t have enough for the rest of our lives. I tell Jess, ‘Honey, we’re not going to have that much quality time this year, or even next year.

Ninja - Fortnite

“But if we do this right and I continue to grind for a couple more years, we can set ourselves up, and our family and our family’s family, for the rest of our lives.”

It’s an excellent insight into what has been a fascinating career journey for Ninja. He’s gone from being a professional player in a couple of titles to undoubtedly the most prominent video gaming figure on the planet. Ninja is synonymous with Fortnite and the popularity of both the game and the player are feeding into one another. This ESPN cover interview is just the next step for Blevins personally but for eSports and gaming as a whole, it’s a historic one.

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