ST. GEORGE — Millions around the world are keeping the memory of a Hurricane resident alive after his unexpected death at age 38 earlier this week.
In 2010, Jonathan Grant Thompson started a YouTube channel, “The King of Random,” to help viewers explore “life through all kinds of life hacks, experiments, and random weekend projects.” In the last 9 years, Thompson’s channel amassed over 11 million subscribers and almost 2.5 billion views.
“The King of Random” Facebook page posted an official statement for its followers Tuesday:
It is with great sadness to inform everyone that Grant Thompson passed away last night. Grant had great love and appreciation for his fans. We invite you to share your thoughts for Grant and the channel in the comments. Please do a random act of love or kindness today in honor of The King of Random. Grant’s legacy will live on in the channel and the global community he created.
A minute-long memorial video posted to the channel is currently trending at No. 3 on YouTube with over 4 million views in 24 hours.
One of the show’s co-hosts, Nate, spoke with St. George News about his time with Thompson. The pair were introduced to each other at a YouTube event for content creators in Utah. They worked together behind the scenes before Nate applied for an open assistant position that Thompson had advertised in one of his videos.
Originally from Canada, Thompson began his YouTube journey in rural Utah when he was 30 years old. His friends and family remember him collecting free things from classified ads and using them to learn about the world.
Nate said once he found something that interested him, Thompson would decide he needed to know everything he could about it.
After realizing what he was learning from his experiments wasn’t common knowledge, he decided to learn how to make videos and share them on YouTube. Nate said the name of his channel stemmed from a conversation he had early on when his brother’s friend said “you’re like the king of random.”
Nate said he has never met someone as “intensely” committed to completing a project or learning something new as Thompson. To Nate, his friend was “very impressive.”
Not long after starting the channel, Thompson and his family migrated farther south to Hurricane, trying to outrun the cold.
“He hated the cold,” Nate said. “I think he decided that even the northern half of Utah was too cold for him during the winter so he wanted to get away from that.”
Fans and friends of the YouTuber are sharing tributes on a number of social media sites. Nate said the best way for people to honor Thompson’s legacy is to never stop striving to learn more and to get a hands-on education for whatever interests them.
“That was seriously one of his passions,” he said. “He loved physically doing things and coming up with projects, especially when it related to some new bit of knowledge.”
One of Thompson’s biggest interests included post-apocalyptic survival and the rebuilding of societies. Nate said the topic was inherently “hands-on,” which is why he believed Thompson fell in love with it so quickly.
Nate assured fans the channel will continue because he “knows Grant would want it to continue.” The channel will “go dark” for one week after the posting of the memorial video with a bit of tribute content before “returning to a normal schedule in a couple weeks.”
“His family has suggested that if you’re a fan affected by his passing that you find some random act of kindness or love that you can share with the world.”
Thompson was found dead after family contacted police around 10:30 p.m. Monday reporting that he did not return from a paragliding trip near Honeymoon Trail, according to the Hurricane City Police Department.
Thompson was wearing a GPS locator for safety reasons, which police used to locate him, and officials located his body Tuesday morning after midnight. Officers called in Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews, Intermountain Life Flight and the Bureau of Land Management to assess the situation and recover the body.
Sheriff’s Office detectives recovered paragliding equipment and a video recording device. They are reviewing the video to determine the reason for the crash.
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