When the Toronto Argonauts signed YouTube star Deestroying – real name Donald De La Haye – the obvious question came to mind: was it about his kicking talent or does it have to do with exposure for the CFL and the Argos that comes with his now 1.6 million subscribers?
Thanks to Deestroying there are some answers.
“I hate to admit it but I kinda saw what was going down when they brought Deestroying into this camp. There’s times where even the head coach is like ‘what’s good YouTube?!’ Joking around of course, coach Cham is a great guy,” he said in his latest YouTube video.
“But it was very obvious that I was a big-time YouTuber, I had a following and I guess they saw the benefits. They’re growing on exponential levels. Basically Argonauts Instagram and social media is blowing up. They went from 44,000 Instagram followers before I showed up to now 102,000.”
De La Haye started making gamer videos, switched to producing football content and then had his scholarship at the University of Central Florida revoked by the NCAA due to their rules around student-athletes not making money. He sued them and that case is still ongoing.
De La Haye kept going with the football thing. His videos chronicle some of his workouts and effort to make it in pro football. He’s produced content in partnership with the NFL and the CFL and that led to a video in which the league flew him to Regina to attend a Riders game in Oct. 2017 (a piece of content that also lives on the CFL’s YouTube page.)
De La Haye tried out for the Argos in Florida in April and he did a video on the experience. Toronto signed him and brought him to main camp to compete for the kicking job and produce more videos.
“This whole time I was in camp I was like damn bro I could be making so much money right now. I could be taking advantage of this, I could be making so much bread bro. I’m sitting out here in Toronto, I’m not posting as many videos as I want to, my YouTube is slowing down, I’m getting paid $575 Canadian dollars a week,” De La Haye said.
“I’m thankful, but I added up the hours and I added up the times and it equals roughly $10 per hour. So I’m basically a professional player at this point on a practice roster making minimum wage. My YouTube business…basically this is slowing down for this $10 an hour job.”
Predictably, the CFL has trumpeted De La Haye’s presence on their website and the Toronto Star did a piece on him, contextualizing it with the importance of athletes and social media branding. According to the Star piece, the Argos are insisting that De La Haye’s social media following wasn’t a factor in their evaluation of him as a player.
“Since I’m a practice squad player my GM was like you know you’re on the practice squad right now, so I know you have another business, I know you have other things to take care of, I know you got things to do, so I’m not going to hold you back from that, just let me know in advance,” De La Haye said
That’s why I took that trip to Arizona. That’s why I took the trip to France. If we need you, we’ll call you, but for right now you’re ‘suspended.’ Go home handle what you have to handle, shoot your videos, do what you gotta do.”