Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is the world's highest paid YouTuber with more than 53 million subscribers and videos totalling over 14 billion views, more than anybody else on the video channel.
He got an additional boost in 2014 when Walt Disney Co bought multichannel network Maker Studios, which last month announced it would put the Swede in charge of his own YouTube network called Revelmode.
But Disney has now said it is dropping the star, after Wall Street Journal asked it to comment on several videos recently posted by him criticized for containing anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery.
One of the videos featured two men paid by the YouTuber to hold up a sign reading “Death To All Jews”. He later said in a statement that he had intended to “show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me.”
“Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive,” he added.
In response to criticism pointing out that some neo-Nazi groups had praised the videos, he said: “As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don't support these people in any way.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that PewDiePie has posted eight other videos featuring anti-Semitic content, including a man dressed as Jesus saying “Hitler did nothing wrong”, one including photos of Hitler with PewDiePie wearing a 'Make America Great Again' cap, one playing the Nazi Party anthem and another featuring a 'Sieg Heil' voiceover. Some of them have since been taken down.
Maker Studios told the newspaper it had decided to sever its ties with the channel.
“Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate. Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward,” a spokesperson added to Forbes.