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Recently, YouTube celebrity Grant Thompson very tragically passed away. As many probably know, Thompson was a major Internet presence, building his career and reputation online for almost a decade. In his memory, we here at Factinate have compiled some facts about his accomplishments, life, and legacy.


Grant Thompson Facts

1. What’s in a Name?

Thompson’s full name was actually Jonathan Grant Thompson. However, most know him best by his YouTube moniker “The King of Random.”

2. Can I See Your ID?

Thompson was born on November 21, 1980, despite what others would have you believe (more on that later…).

3. Learning to Fly

Before his YouTube career kicked off, Thompson made his living in the transportation industry. Not only did he fly cargo in Hawaii at one point, he was also an airline pilot.

4. Popular Guy

At the time of his death, Thompson had amassed more than 11 million subscribers on YouTube.

5. A Legend Was Named

Thompson came up with the name “The King of Random,” after a casual conversation with a friend of his. After several months of trying out different experiments, it quickly became clear that Thompson was one of the most curious and talented people in his friend group. One of them commented, “Dude, you’re like the king of random.” The rest, of course, is history.

6. Sweet Success

One of Thompson’s most popular videos was DIY instructions on how to make LEGO Gummy candy. This video has been seen more than 26 million times.

7. Just a Number?

In the wake of his death, Thompson inspired a flood of different reports and death notices online, each one lamenting his loss at such a young age. However, many outlets were at first confused about Thompson’s exact age at the time of his death. Sources were split on whether Thompson was 38 or 42 years old when he died.

8. The Other Grant

Part of this confusion regarding Thompson’s age may be due to the fact that there is another man in the public eye who shares Thompson’s name. This Grant Thompson is an actor and filmmaker, best known for his work on The Butterfly Effect and McFarland, USA. He is, of course, very much alive to this day, in case anyone is still confused.

9. In His Footsteps

Allegedly, Thompson was himself inspired to embark on his YouTube career by popular YouTuber Kip Kedersha. Better known as Kipkay, Kedersha made his own name on the platform with relatable how-to videos and social experiments. Thompson first found out about Kedersha through the online star’s work for Make magazine.

10. Chasing a Hobby

Thompson started up his YouTube channel in 2010. At the time, he was already in semi-retirement at only 29 years old.

11. Quite the Library

By the time of his death, Thompson’s YouTube channel has produced nearly 1000 videos.

12. And Now for a Plug

Inspired by the success of the YouTube channel, Thompson and his associates soon set up a website: thekingofrandom.com. The site offers merchandise related to Thompson’s YouTube content, as well as DIY instructions for projects like a water fuel regenerator, a matchbox rocket launching kit, and a skyblaster slingshot.

13. Friendly Competition

Aside from his regular crew, Thompson was also a good friend of YouTuber Taras Kulakov. You might know Kulakov by his moniker “Crazy Russian Hacker.” Like Thompson, Kulakov also made his name performing science-based experiments, though he adds the gimmick of slow-motion to his own videos to help spice things up.

Taras Kulakov

14. Right-Hands

The YouTube channel under Thompson’s “King of Random” moniker isn’t actually hosted by Thompson himself. That honor goes to his friends Nate and Calli.

Nate and Calli

15. Well Done!

As of July 2019, Thompson’s videos on the King of Random YouTube channel have been seen more than 2.4 billion times.

16. First Incident

Although he garnered an intense following, Thompson’s experiments and antics haven’t been without controversy. In June 2017,  Thompson’s neighbor complained on Facebook Messenger that Thompson had “[exploded] a dry ice bomb.” The video containing that incident was posted that same month, confirming that Thompson had been using dry ice.

17. Second Incident

In August of that same year, Thompson drew more police attention after there was another report of an explosion on his property. Thompson had received a bag of powder that he thought was from “a deconstructed firework.” Thompson and a friend then lit a number of “control fires” before lighting a larger pile of the powder. It was a huge mistake.

This triggered an explosion so loud that the nearby fire station heard it.

18. Minor Consequences

These two incidents, particularly the second, forced police to charge Thompson (and his friend) with possession of an explosive device. Although it caused a huge controversy, Thompson didn’t necessarily get in too much trouble. He wasn’t arrested, and he pointed out that the police and fire department were fully aware of his channel and his activities.

19. Say It Ain’t So

Among the many initial responses to the news of Thompson’s tragic death, there was a lot of suspicion that the report was a hoax. As we already pointed out, the existence of another Grant Thompson further confused people as to which one of them had really died. It wasn’t until the memorials appeared on The King of Random’s official accounts that the rumors were dispelled.

20. Last Seen

In the last few months of his life, family say that Thompson had become obsessed with paragliding/paramotoring, as well as with skydiving and flying in general. On Monday, July 29th, he decided to go paramotoring in Utah. It was a fateful and tragic decision.

21. Quickly Found

When Thompson still hadn’t returned from his adventure much later on, his family grew worried and filed a missing person’s report with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The police first tried to call Thompson, and then started a search and rescue operation. Thompson was wearing a GPS tracker, and the helicopter found his body soon after.

When they found him, police made a heartbreaking discovery: they found Thompson with his paramotoring equipment as well as a video recorder. To the end, he was someone who wanted to share his experiences with the world.

22. Grim Coincidence

Another aspect of the confusion surrounding Thompson’s tragic death was the fact that there was another man who had died in a similar accident around the same time. 59-year-old Michael McGuire was in Florida when he also tragically died while paragliding. With reports of both these incidents happening so soon after one another, some fans were convinced that there had been a mistake.

Sadly, there was no mistake, and both men passed away.

23. Husband and Father

Thompson’s death was incredibly tragic, but there’s one devastating detail most people don’t know about: At the time of his accident, Thompson was married with four children, all boys. His youngest was just born in 2017.

24. Be Kind

In response to Thompson’s passing, his official Instagram account released a short statement suggesting that any fans of Thompson who wished to pay tribute to his memory should “do a random act of love or kindness.” We here at Factinate fully endorse such an idea. Rest in peace, Grant Thompson, The King of Random.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

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