The mother of Ryan Kaji, 7, who earned $22 million last year through his YouTube channel ‘Ryan ToysReview’, is a convicted criminal who was jailed for shoplifting.
Ryan’s parents have been secretive about their true identity – Kaji is an on-screen name they gave themselves – as they enjoy all the trappings of wealth in their hometown Cypress, Texas, 25 miles northwest of Houston.
His father can now be revealed as former structural engineer Shion Guan, 31, who drives an $80,000 Porsche Macan GT3 SUV to and from the large production studio the family bought for $1.2 million in 2017 in the Houston suburbs.
His wife, who is credited for creating the lucrative YouTube channel, is former high school chemistry teacher Loan Guan, 35.
Loan divides her time managing the family’s four companies and caring for Ryan and his two-year-old twin sisters Emma and Kate at their sprawling $1 million six bedroom home in a gated community in Cypress.
The 6,200 squarefoot house with a large swimming pool is just one of three properties the Guans own in the area.
They also own a 5-bedroom, 5 bathroom house worth $1 million in a nearby gated community and a more modest $190,000 three-bedroom home they purchased in 2014.
Loan Guan (left and center), 35, and Shion Guan (far right), 31, of Cypress, Texas, are the parents of of Ryan Haruto Guan (center), better known as Ryan Kaji, YouTube’s top earning star. On May 4, 2003, Loan – then known as Kieu-Loan Thi Nguyen – was arrested for breaching a probation order which had been imposed in 2002 when she had been caught stealing clothing at JC Penney departent store in Almeda Mall, Houston
The Guans’ ‘Ryan’s World’ brand- which includes toothpaste, mandarin oranges, television shows and video games – earned the family $22 million last year. Here, Ryan is promoting his range of toys at Walmart
Their son’s toy review videos have been watched more than 30 billion times, making him YouTube’s highest-earning entrepreneur and most-powerful influencer.
With 80 brands licensed in his family’s ‘Ryan’s World’ empire- including toothpaste, mandarin oranges, television shows and video games – Forbes financial magazine has calculated the family earned $22 million in 2018.
But a DailyMail.com investigation can reveal, before ‘Ryan’s World’ earned her millions, Loan almost ruined her life when she was caught stealing.
Born in April 1984, Kieu-Loan Thi Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, grew up in Houston, Texas, and was known to her friends as Loan.
On June 28, 2002, the then 18-year-old University of Houston student was caught shoplifting at a JC Penney department store in Houston’s Almeda Mall, close to her family home.
Security staff found Loan had tried to steal six items of clothing totaling $93. They detained her until Houston police arrived to arrest and charge her.
Harris County Criminal Court in Houston could have jailed her for 60 days – the maximum sentence for a class B misdemeanor – but were initially lenient with Loan when they saw her a week later on July 5.
Ryan Haruto, then aged one, poses with his parents Loan and Shion Guan in October 2012
They fined her $150 and gave her a non-custodial sentence, placing her on six months probation. She was ordered to carry out 40 hours community service and submit to random urine tests.
She was also given an offender identification card which she had to carry at all times and take part in an anti-shoplifting program.
But Loan had other plans. She chose not to report to a community supervisor, carry out community service or pay supervising fees.
On May 4, 2003, police from the City of Pearland, a suburb of Houston, arrested Loan for breaching the probation order.
On June 6, Loan was back at Harris County Criminal Court and this time sentenced to 60 days in prison at Houston’s Harris County Jail. She served 30 days.
After leaving jail, Loan decided to become a teacher and enrolled at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
It was through mutual friends there that, in September 2009, she met Shion Guan, almost four years her junior and studying civil engineering after moving to Texas from Japan.
Shion had been popular with his fellow Texas Tech students, spending his free time with them playing computer games and the card game ‘Magic: The Gathering’.
The family lives in a six-bedroom home in Cypress, Texas, 25 miles northwest of Houston, which regularly features in their videos. It is worth an estimated $1 million
Shion Guan, 31, who drives an $80,000 Porsche Macan GTE3 SUV to and from the large production studio the family bought for $1.2 million in 2017 in the Houston suburbs
The Guans also own a 5-bedroom, 5 bathroom house worth $1 million in a gated community close to their main home in Cypress, Texas
They also own a more-modest $190,000 three-bedroom home they purchased in 2014 close to Cypress, Texas
The Guans bought this large production studio for $1.2 million in 2017 in the Houston suburbs which is where their son Ryan’s content is made
By November 2009 Shion and Loan were inseparable. The couple stayed together despite Loan graduating from the university in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences.
On September 27, 2011, their son Ryan Haruto Nguyen was born.
Loan gained a Texas educator certificate in April 2012 and became a high school chemistry teacher. She also became certified to teach English as a second language.
Meanwhile Shion, after getting his degree at Texas Tech, studied transportation system engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he earned a master’s degree in engineering.
With his new degree in hand, he returned to Houston in 2013 and married Loan on August 10 that year. He then began work as a structural engineer.
Loan is credited with seeing the potential in making money from YouTube after watching videos by reviewer EvanTubeHD.
In March 2015, the family created the YouTube channel Ryan ToysReview, featuring their then three-year-old son unboxing and reviewing toys.
One post, four months after launching, shows Ryan reviewing an easter egg from the Pixar film ‘Cars’. It has now been seen 980 million times.
The channel soon became so popular Loan left her teaching job to work full-time producing the videos.
Love at first sight: Shion Guan (left) met his bride-to-be Loan (right) in September 2009 at this Texas Tech University party
By November 2009, Shion Guan and Loan were inseparable. The couple stayed together despite Loan graduating from the university in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences. On September 27, 2011, their son Ryan Haruto Nguyen was born
By September 2016, the channel had become the most-popular in the US, with 4 million subscribers and its videos having been watched 6.5 billion times.
Revenue generated from YouTube varies but for popular channels, YouTube will pay channels $7 per 1,000 clicks.
Loan is credited with seeing the money-making potential of setting up a YouTube channel hosted by her son Ryan
At this time, Forbes made Ryan the eighth-highest-paid YouTube entrepreneur, generating $11 million in revenue through 2016.
In 2017, Ryan’s parents went to court for an order adjudicating parentage so their son could officially use his father’s last name, Guan.
Because he had been born before his parents married, under Texan law he had to use his mother’s maiden name Nguyen.
He officially became Ryan Haruto Guan on April 27, 2017 after Shion testified being his father.
The Guan family’s fortunes jumped even further later that year when they signed a deal with brand licensing company Pocket.watch, based in Culver City, California, to market ‘Ryan’s World’ products.
Currently boasting seven YouTube channels and 30 million subscribers, the family has 80 deals through Pocket.watch.
Colgate has released a range of ‘Ryan’s World Kids Oral Care’ products, Walmart is selling Ryan’s World Pajamas and ‘Ryan’s World’ mandarin oranges are also being sold.
The Guan family has 80 deals through brand licensing company Pocket.watch, including a range of ‘Ryan’s World Kids Oral Care’ products from Colgate
Fast food chain Carl’s Jr sells Ryan’s Star Pal Kid’s Meal Toys
Pocket.watch, which has 60 people employed for the Guan family, has also done deals to create magazine Ryan’s World Ultimate Guide and the traditional television show Ryan’s Mystery Playdate on Nick Jr.
Fast food chain Carl’s Jr sells Ryan’s Star Pal Kid’s Meal Toys while ‘Race With Ryan’, a kart racing video game, will be released on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in November.
Court documents show Loan was sentenced to 60 days in prison on June 6, 2003 for failing to carry out community service for shoplifting
On Monday, it was announced consumer watchdog Truth in Advertising had filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the channel ‘Ryan ToysReview’.
Loan served 30 days at Harris County Jail in Houston
Truth in Advertising said the channel, whose viewership is mostly children under-five, did not make it clear enough that some of the toys being featured were made by advertisers.
The Federal Trade Commission has not yet responded but Shion Guan released a statement.
He said, ‘The well-being of our viewers is always our top priority. Creating content that is safe and appropriate for our young viewers and their families is very important to us.
‘We strive to provide quality, engaging content including skits, family challenges, science experiments, cartoon animations and more.
‘We strictly follow all platforms’ terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements.
‘As the streaming space continues to quickly grow and evolve, we support efforts by lawmakers, industry representatives, and regulators such as the FTC to continuously evaluate and update existing guidelines and lay new ground rules to protect both viewers and creators.’
HOW ‘RYAN’S WORLD’ MAKES $22 MILLION-A-YEAR FOR THE GUANS
THE RYAN’S WORLD BRANDED EMPIRE CONSISTS OF:
- Ryan ToysReview (21.4 million subscribers)
- Ryan’s Family Review (4.6 million subscribers)
- The Studio Space (1.24 million subscribers)
- Combo Panda (1.09 million subscribers)
- VTubers (877,000 subscribers)
- Gus the Gummy Gator (827,000 subscribers)
- EK Doodles (250,000 subscribers)
MAGAZINES & BOOKS:
- Ryan’s World Magazine (through UK-based publisher Egmont)
- Ryan’s World Amazing Sticker Scenes (Egmont)
- Ryan’s World Ultimate Guide (Egmont)
- Ryan’s Mystery Playdate (Nick Jr.)
- Race with Ryan (Outright Games)
FAST FOOD TOYS:
- Star Pal Kid’s Meal Toys (Carl’s Jr)
- Mandarin Oranges (Wonderful Halos)
- Ryan’s World Kids Oral Care (Colgate)
- Ryan’s World Target Exclusive Mega Mystery Treasure Chest (Target)
- Ryan’s World Exclusive Super Surprise Safe (Walmart)
- Ryan’s World Duvet Cover
- Ryan’s World Giant Floor Puzzle
- Ryan’s World Pajamas
- Ryan’s World Cushion
- Ryan’s World Collectible Figures
- Ryan’s World Mystery Egg