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Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg found his ‘most-subscribed YouTube channel’ title under threat from the Indian music production company in late 2018. The two have been swapping the number one and number two positions over the last few months, but T-Series recently surged ahead and passed the 100 million-milestone first, with PewDiePie currently at 96.2 million subs.
YouTube congratulated T-Series on being the first to hit the target, suggesting it make some room on its shelf for something new and shiny. A few fans have suggested the site wouldn’t have been as quick to congratulate PewDiePie if he’d reached 100 million first.
The rivalry between the two hasn’t exactly been good natured. As a way of keeping him on top, fans started the “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme earlier this year, but it quickly gained negative associations after a World War II memorial in New York was defaced with the slogan.
Things got even uglier when, on March 15, the person who shot and killed 50 people and injured 50 more in New Zealand said “Remember, lads: subscribe to Pewdiepie,” during the first few minutes of him livestreaming the atrocity. There was also a reference to PewDiePie in the manifesto of the gunman who opened fire on worshipers at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Southern California earlier this month. PewDiePie said he was “sickened” by these associations.
Kjellberg later released two diss tracks aimed at T-Series that were banned by a Delhi court from appearing on Indian YouTube as they contain content that is "defamatory, disparaging, insulting, and offensive."
At the end of April, PewDiePie called for an end to the “subscribe” meme, saying the movement should have ended following the New Zealand shootings. “This movement started out of love and support, so let’s end it with that,” he said.