ECU student receives $20k from MrBeast during campus walk

East Carolina University student Jack Costello had a good reason to hang up on his girlfriend — 20,000 of them to be exact.

“I told her, ‘I think that’s MrBeast. I’m gonna go.’ She thought I was joking. I didn’t call her back for like an hour,” he said.

Costello was simply walking across campus when MrBeast, the online content creator and philanthropist, popped out and gave him two silver briefcases that contained $20,000 for his college expenses.

“He walked up to me, and I got really nervous because I had seen this before and I really didn’t believe it was happening,” said Costello, a freshman mechanical design major. “… I haven’t even processed it fully. The whole thing lasted about five minutes, and then he like vanished.”

He called his parents right away, a conversation that went smoothly because Costello had told them previously about MrBeast.

“I don’t think there would have been a reasonable way to explain to them that a random person on the street just gave me $20,000 for college and it’s not a scam. There’s no way,” he said. “So they already knew about him, and they were very excited.”

MrBeast dropped the video of the gift on TikTok last week, turning Costello into a mini celebrity on campus.

“I’m definitely the MrBeast guy,” Costello said. “I’ve had more than 100 people come up to me. A lot of people are saying they’re happy it happened to me and that I deserve it, which is really odd because I don’t know a lot of people here, but it’s also from people back home, which is wonderful to hear.”

Costello said though his parents saved money to help pay for his college expenses, the $20,000 gift means a lot.

“We do have some of my tuition saved up but not all of it. This is going to cover the rest of it,” he said. “We’ll put it in some sort of fund to grow it before we have to use it, so maybe I’ll have a little bit extra when I graduate to start life after college, but it’s mainly going to go for tuition in the future. It is a chance to graduate debt free. This is very helpful.”

Costello attended an early college in his hometown of Indian Trail and was accepted at several universities.

“I toured all of them and ECU seemed really cool. It was the first place that accepted me,” he said. “… No one talks about all the cool stuff that is going on here. I think we’re the only school in North Carolina with a particle accelerator. We have the brand new life sciences building and all the things that are offered in there. I was really impressed during the tour and all the stuff that I saw.”

He decided to major in mechanical design in the Department of Technology Systems during Admitted Students Day.

“We went to the SciTech building and they had a full lecture on a bunch of different programs, and mechanical design seemed really interesting and cool,” Costello said.

Costello said he walked across campus simply to get out of his room after playing a video game, not knowing what would happen on the late afternoon stroll. He said now that the video is out, people have congratulated him and asked him one question.

“A lot of people have asked me if the briefcase is real,” Costello said. “The briefcase is real and it did have real money in it, but I didn’t get to keep it. They didn’t want me to take it home and have it get robbed, but I did hold that amount of money in my hand. That was crazy.”

ECU and MrBeast are in an exclusive partnership that aims to develop a credentialing program to solve the growing demand for a skilled workforce in the creator industry.