The esports community was blown away by the recent signing of an eight-year-old Fortnite content creator.
A newly formed esports organization called Team 33 signed eight-year-old Joseph Deen to their Fortnite squad for a $33,000 signing bonus. The young gamer was also given a $5,000 gaming setup. A press release from the organization states that Team 33 has been working with Deen since he was six. Co-founder Tyler Gallagher explained that they have been training him over the past few years “because young gamers are the future.” Because of this, the organization wants to start training potential talent quite early.
“We are beyond excited to have Joseph on our exclusive Team 33 roster. We have secretly been scouting talent for our roster and games over the last few years and are proud to officially sign Joseph,” Gallagher said.
Team 33 is working on building a roster and expanding into Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Valorant. The organization currently doesn’t have any other players listed on its website.
The organization launched its operations on November 10 and has a facility in Los Angeles that also supports entrepreneurs and music artists. According to the Team 33 website, Post Malone, Travis Scott, and Drake have visited the facility in the past.
While Deen is no doubt excited about his money and Fortnite future, esports insiders were quick to question the morality and legality of signing an eight-year-old.
Esports attorney Ryan Fairchild was especially vocal on Twitter. He immediately compared the situation to FaZe Clan, which was under fire last year for signing a 13-year-old Fortnite player. It was discovered that the organization lied about H1ghSky1’s age. He was actually only 12, causing Twitch to deactivate his channel. It also meant he was barred from competing in Fortnite tournaments.
Guess this esports team I’ve never heard of has also never heard of FaZe Clan and its experience with illegally employing minors. https://t.co/BAHU4206cP
— Ryan Fairchild (@FairPlayEsports) December 3, 2020
He also shared a screenshot of the U.S. Department of Labor’s policy on workers under 18 which states that the minimum age for non-agricultural work is 14, meaning Deen is technically six years too young to be legally allowed to work.
“Small possibility that they’re trying to work under a loophole through child entertainer laws, but I am MILDLY skeptical that they’ve put that much thought into due diligence at this point,” Fairchild tweeted.
Team 33 has yet to make a public statement responding to the accusations and concerns. Neither has Deen, although he’s not even old enough to create content for Twitch or YouTube, or sign up for a social media account.