One of the first things you learn in an introductory video for Andrew Tate’s “Hustlers University 2.0,” his suite of courses that thousands of people pay a monthly subscription fee for, is that his two favorite things seem to be making money and emotional manipulation.
“You’re in the most fantastic place on the planet for making money, Hustlers University, and the only person who could ruin that is you,” the controversial influencer shouts, as he struts in front of his red Aston Martin Vanquish, blue Rolls-Royce Wraith, and white Porsche 911, luxury sports cars with a collective retail value of over $750,000. Dressed in a leather jacket, Tate holds a coffee in one hand and uses the other to gesture at the camera. “Most of you are happy to be losers part time,” he declares. “You want to escape. That’s why you joined. You don’t want to be a loser anymore.”
Tate goes on to talk repeatedly about the need to “escape the matrix” — part of his worldview that a job makes you, as he calls it, a “peon” or a “wage slave brokie.” Four other luxury cars, including one of his beloved Bugattis, appear in the video’s background, a hint for viewers about what may be possible if they just follow Tate’s directions.
While red pilling, also drawn from The Matrix, has been part of the cultural lexicon for the last several years, now adherents of Tate have coalesced in one place and are seemingly more intent than ever on “escaping the matrix.” They have come to believe he, the school, and “Tateism” — think pro-capitalism and pro-hypermasculinity — hold the answers on how to find freedom from societal slavery. That includes financial independence, but also a rejection of modern progressive politics. And the Hustlers University 2.0 program was designed, through its affiliate program, to effectively spread that messaging all across the social media channels where dissatisfied young men dwell. (BuzzFeed News reached out to Tate’s representative with detailed questions for this story. They responded saying they were unable to reach him for comment.)
While for many, Tate, with his overt displays of wealth and misogynist language, appeared seemingly out of nowhere this summer, he’s actually been steadily growing his following over the past couple of years. After first appearing on Big Brother in 2016, the former professional kickboxer built a small empire marketing himself as the “Top G” and selling online courses at $500 each. The 11 courses were aimed at helping men become better at dating, such as the “Pimpin Hoe Degree” and “Instagram Playbook,” similar in style to the pickup artists of the early 2000s. Those courses have been removed from his website and can no longer be purchased.
According to Tate’s website, he founded Hustlers University 2.0 in 2021. BuzzFeed News enrolled in the online Discord network, called “campuses,” in August, just as Tate had been deplatformed from social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. For $49.99 a month, users have access to the Discord and to video lessons purportedly teaching money-making methods like investing in cryptocurrency, offering copywriting services to businesses, and setting up your own e-commerce and Amazon stores. Sprinkled in with the business advice is the same anti-LGBTQ and anti-women rhetoric that Tate has become known for.
Despite being deplatformed on nearly every major social media site, Tate can still influence followers via Hustlers University 2.0 — and he seemingly makes millions of dollars a month doing so. Who are the students? Hundreds of thousands of people, predominantly men, some who say they’re as young as 13 years old. These students try to motivate each other to become just like Tate, a successful entrepreneur whose main product is himself.
Tate has also been selling access to The War Room, a group chat on the Telegram app, which costs $4,497 to access. It’s framed as “a global network in which exemplars of individualism work to free the modern man from socially induced incarceration” — and the biggest selling point is direct, personal access to Tate, which Hustlers University 2.0 hadn’t offered beyond occasional groupwide updates.
“Rather than it being a university or educational platform, I see it being a cult where people can join in on the beliefs of Andrew Tate, or at least they believe that they can,” said Jack Persey, 21, a business student from London who joined Hustlers University 2.0 and canceled his subscription after three months.
Going viral for getting deplatformed has actually been a huge financial boon for Tate. Screenshots posted online show Hustlers University 2.0 had only 12,000 subscribers in March. By July it was 77,000. At the start of August, it was 129,000, but, by the end of August, as his media attention soared and the affiliate program that incentivized subscribers to spread the word was discontinued, thousands of people left; on Aug. 25, BuzzFeed News observed 102,000 students. However, that was a temporary loss; by September, subscriber numbers were up to 160,000. In October, BuzzFeed News observed more than 221,000 users in the Discord server. Assuming all those members paid the $49.99-a-month fee, Hustlers University 2.0 stands to take in over $11 million for the month of October. While it’s unclear how many of these accounts are still active and currently paying the monthly fee, an ad on one of the signup sites featuring Tate claims there are 168,334 enrolled students — meaning at least $8 million a month.
Social media has been filled with young men espousing Tate’s aggressive beliefs and testimonial videos of people claiming they’ve made a lot of money using lessons from Hustlers University 2.0, which go viral and attract like-minded followers. Much of the content featuring Tate that went viral across platforms this summer was created as free advertising by those in Hustlers University 2.0. In one of the courses, called Affiliate Marketing, students were encouraged to market the school and were promised a 50% cut of the first month of subscription fees (roughly $25) for each new user who used their affiliate link to sign up. By August, the Hustlers University 2.0 hashtag on TikTok had a billion views and the Andrew Tate hashtag had over 10 billion.
According to a recent study conducted by investment bank Piper Sandler, the virality of Tate and his philosophies has been particularly potent for Gen Z. The study, conducted Aug. 12 to Sept. 23, from about a week before to a week after Tate was deplatformed from social media, found that he was the favorite influencer amongst US teenagers who participated.
During Tate’s time as a contestant on Big Brother, he came under scrutiny for old racist and anti-LGBTQ tweets. In one tweet he said, “Fuck running the final if I wanted to see black people running id just threaten them with jobs.” (Tate’s father was Black, and Tate identifies himself as “half African-American” and a “person of color.”) In another tweet he said, “They are teaching gay issues to 7-yr old kids. BY LAW. A pure homosexual cannot reproduce, so they need your children for new partners. OK.”
By August the Hustlers University 2.0 hashtag on TikTok had a billion views and the Andrew Tate hashtag had over 10 billion.
In August, the Guardian reported that Tate was under investigation for sex trafficking, following an April raid on his home in Romania. Authorities had been tipped off that a 21-year-old woman was being kept there against her will. In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that month, Tate said the incident was a case of “swatting,” in which someone calls authorities to another’s address without cause. However, the Guardian reported that the investigation is ongoing. (Romanian authorities did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment about the investigation.)
Two days after that story was published, a viral Instagram post by influencer Matt Bernstein called for social media platforms to be held accountable for allowing the spread of Tate’s hateful and homophobic comments. Hope Not Hate anti-racism campaigners also created a petition asking for the 35-year-old to be deplatformed for his “hate speech.” Shortly afterward, Meta removed Tate’s Instagram account for violating its terms. TikTok and YouTube followed suit shortly after.
The rhetoric Tate has become known for shows up all over Hustlers University 2.0. In a video at the end of a copywriting lesson, Tate says that carrying around a water bottle is “gay,” adding “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that but it is.” In another, he says men should not waste their time cooking and should either order food “or instruct a female to provide some sustenance” so that they can “get back to world conquest.”
Recently, BuzzFeed News asked our readers to tell us stories about how toxic male influencers like Tate have changed the behavior of men in their lives. One 23-year-old woman said her boyfriend began agreeing with Tate; started making ruder, more misogynistic jokes; and began behaving in a selfish, sexually demanding manner.
On Hustlers University 2.0, this rhetoric sits alongside claims that the courses can teach people to build income streams that don’t require traditional employment, the sort of content that has been typical for entrepreneurs and YouTubers during the rise of side-hustle culture. “Traditional education creates employees. Our University turns you into the employer,” Hustler University 2.0’s site says. But what the site sells more than anything is Tate himself, the cliché of a successful former athlete turned business owner who spends endless money on private jets, expensive watches, and sports cars.
All over social media, members of Hustlers University 2.0 say the program and Tate have changed their lives.
That cliché is potent. All over social media, members of Hustlers University 2.0 say the program and Tate have changed their lives. One person said he emailed Tate after being depressed, and to his surprise Tate responded. “Andrew Tate has personally saved my life and has drastically improved my relationship with my wife, who is seven months pregnant,” said Justin Hal in a YouTube video. “I look up to Andrew Tate because listening to the Tate brothers has helped me out,” said influencer Sneako in a video. “I’m in a better position now.” One TikToker said he grew up without any good male guidance in his life, and “without Andrew Tate I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today. I really don’t.”
The school’s Discord also functions as a social media community where users post about their love of Tate alongside constant updates about their progress and photos of how much money they have allegedly made. There are several channels made for users to share their financial gains, which are referred to as “wins.” People also share screenshots of what appear to be bank deposits, with some claiming to have made thousands of dollars in a day, while others share photos of cash, expensive cars, and photos from trips they claim came from being part of Hustlers University 2.0.
There is a constant call from professors and other students to do push-ups, and people share videos doing them in channels called “Start Your Engine” and “Victory Zone.” At the start of the copywriting course, one instructor says: “For some reason, the students who do the most push-ups per day inside of this program are the ones who learn the fastest and are the ones who make the most money.”
“Without Andrew Tate I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today.”
The Discord subchannels for each topic and class are constantly monitored by “instructors,” Hustlers University 2.0 support staff, and “apprentices” (students who have been elevated), but it’s unclear what qualifications are necessary to get any of these roles. (Through a representative, Tate did not respond to questions about the day-to-day running of Hustlers University 2.0.)
The copywriting course is the most popular program at Hustlers University 2.0 because, unlike launching an e-commerce site or buying crypto, it doesn’t require money to begin implementing the skills learned. There are 14 classes in the copywriting course, each taught through videos featuring an instructor and followed by a quiz. You cannot view the next lesson until you get all the questions correct. The course teaches things like how to write copy that sells your product, how to write an email, and how to mass email.
Students are also taught that the core values of being a copywriter include the supposed “Top G” mentality, which includes saving yourself and believing you are “the fucking man,” among other things. During a class, one instructor said: “Inside the copywriting campus we live and breathe the Top G work ethic of ‘when I'm awake, I am working.’”
Jack Persey said he first discovered Hustlers University 2.0 on TikTok through someone else’s affiliate marketing and signed up. He then started creating his own affiliate content and made about £400 ($440) in just a few days.
But he said the Tate-style content proliferating all over the program’s Discord — including mimicking his phrases, like responding with a “G” emoji to messages — became disturbing. “They always seem to talk like him on there,” he said. “If I had a kid I probably wouldn’t let them on it.” Another user on Reddit posted that, although he wanted the educational content, he ended up leaving the program because “the toxic masculinity was so overly aggressive.”
Still, the majority of the video content shared on Hustlers University 2.0 is pretty standard for any online course that can be found on YouTube or SkillShare. Persey said that, for the two months he subscribed, he tried the copywriting course and found it to be basic. “This is all information I could have found in a YouTube video,” he said, declaring that the monthly $49.99 price “for a Discord server is quite extortionate.”
Charlie Lawrence, 30, runs a marketing agency and recently reviewed Hustlers University 2.0 for his 180,000 TikTok followers. Like Persey, he told BuzzFeed News that he found the information to be very basic.
“He’s called me a loser literally four times in the first 30 seconds,” said Lawrence in his review. He said if he had to rate Hustlers University 2.0, he’d give it a 0/10. But he acknowledged that he saw others who were inspired by Tate.
“People were buying into it trying to become successful like him, with the flash cars, jets, and houses,” he said.
That drive to achieve similar success resulted in people using the most inflammatory videos of Tate to increase traffic to their own videos in order to encourage affiliate sign-ups, but those viral videos of his hateful rhetoric ultimately resulted in Tate getting kicked off platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. And then the affiliate commission dropped to 10%, and the program was later canceled altogether on Aug. 20, the day after Tate was kicked off Facebook and Instagram. At least 20,000 people unsubscribed within days from Hustlers University 2.0 in protest, according to one TikTok review.
During that period, BuzzFeed News saw messages within the Discord from users discussing the departure of members. They speculated it was due to both the affiliate’s program being discontinued and the media controversy around Tate, calling them “quitters.” In fact, those who inquire about canceling their Hustlers University 2.0 membership are often ridiculed and insulted by support staff. A staff member told one person looking to cancel to “be ashamed,” and other users then responded with an emoji of the rainbow LGBTQ flag.
“I think that Tate is intelligent — he knows that part of the reason why he’s had such a meteoric rise is because he understands the psychology of going viral.”
But other users who have stayed said they’ve found it very helpful. One of those is a man who identifies himself on social media as @ScottyHyperformance, 28, and said he owns two businesses, a trip comparison website, and a business consulting agency. Scotty, who lives in Spain and is a current Hustlers University 2.0 subscriber, said he had completed the copywriting and crypto courses.
“I personally think that the modern education system has failed us. And I think a lot of people like myself are looking for alternative ways than traditional forms of education like school and university,” he said.
He joined the program hoping to network with others like him: people focused on getting rich.
“I think that Tate is intelligent — he knows that part of the reason why he’s had such a meteoric rise is because he understands the psychology of going viral,” added Scotty. He said people want more “traditionally masculine” influencers like Tate.
“He’s saying very controversial things, which in turn has obviously struck a certain market — I’d say 14-to-19-year-old males,” Persey said. “Then they’re sort of going, oh, you know what, I get that viewpoint, he is saying things that no one else has got the balls to say, let me join his course and then maybe I’ll be rich and I’ll be like him one day. People want to become like him. Which is why I sort of moved on.”
There seems to be no minimum age requirement to be able to join Hustlers University 2.0, so anyone with access to a bank card with money to spare — including their parents’ money — can presumably join. In fact, an alarming number of users on the server are seemingly under 18 and legally not able to trade crypto or stocks, yet they’re populating chat rooms on the Discord trying to find ways of making money or some kind of direction. (Through a representative, Tate did not respond to specific questions regarding age requirements for Hustlers University 2.0.)
And while so much of the content on the site is centered around winning, members of all ages share personal stories of their insecurities, grief, and feeling unaccomplished. The channels are also teeming with requests for advice. One post seen by BuzzFeed News was by someone who said he was 13 years old and ready to quit school and “run off.”
“I’m only in highschool, but am so sick of the life I have in the matrix. Every time we go to our class I feel like a sheep. Can anyone give me advice on what to do? I wanna live the life I’ve dreamed of, but idk if I’m able to before 18,” he wrote. Someone else asked if they can use PayPal as a 14-year-old and a support staff member replied, “I am 14 and yes you can. If you get limited, just send your ID/Passport. They approve it and don’t even check your age.”
“I’m only in highschool, but am so sick of the life I have in the matrix. Every time we go to our class I feel like a sheep.”
Others also ask “the brotherhood,” as they call it, for help navigating their lives. One man asked about how to best approach women in person after being dumped by a long-term girlfriend. After receiving positive exam results from school, another person asked for advice on whether they should continue a traditional education or focus on Hustlers University 2.0 full-time. Another opened up about the death of their beloved 2-year-old dog. “Today was one of the hardest days of my life. A sad day is coming for us all, fuck depression and fuck sadness,” he wrote.
One user, who said they were 17 years old, said their parents were making them cancel their subscription, and a staff member, who identified themself as 14 years old, replied with “2 choices. Stay here, apply the lessons, take notes and make money. Or Stay broke and live in the matrix, breathe within the matrix and run the matrix.”
But something is shifting in Hustlers University 2.0.
Over the past month, the site has been removing videos of Tate. When one member of the Discord asked where the missing Tate content had gone, an “apprentice” responded that “some of them have been taken down more recently to focus more on the best ones.”
While Tate used to regularly post general news updates in the “Tate Speaks” channel on Discord, that channel was removed and now Tate is completely gone from the platform. (Discord did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request to clarify whether Tate was kicked off the platform or simply chose to leave.)
Instead, people in Hustlers University 2.0 now screenshot and post Tate’s messages from Gettr, an uncensored messaging platform created by Jason Miller, an ex-aide to former president Donald Trump that is often used by right-wing conservatives and extremists.
In early October, Tate announced that Hustlers University 2.0 will relaunch as The Real World on Nov. 14. He promised it would be “the portal to escape the matrix,” with access costing new students $149 a month (the charge will remain $49.99 for current subscribers). This time, the platform will be Telegram, an encrypted messaging service that has attracted extremists in the past.
Tate has also seemingly set his sights on expanding his empire into the United Arab Emirates. He announced an Oct. 15 event in Dubai titled “41 Tenets of Andrew Tate,” with tickets starting at $80. It was canceled after locals rallied against it on Twitter due to his negative comments about Muslims, but Tate has been in Dubai since mid-October and was filmed praying in a mosque. Over the weekend, there was speculation on social media that Tate had converted to Islam. On Monday, he posted a confirmation on Gettr, along with an anti-LGBTQ video decrying the first known drag queen Methodist pastor.
Tate’s personal website now links out to a dazzling advertisement for The Real World. It opens with people talking about how much money they made in Hustlers University 2.0, before criticism of Tate appears — a TV news anchor reporting on him being banned from social media for his misogynist comments, a Daily Beast report about allegations of him being investigated for human trafficking, and influencers calling Hustlers University 2.0 a “pyramid scheme.” It shows snapshots of people canceling their subscriptions and calling him a scam. And then, of course, a scene from Matrix Reloaded. The character Morpheus declares, “This attack is an act of desperation.” Get it? The backlash won’t stop Tate.
“Hustlers University was Step 1 of our 3-Step Plan. The Real World is Step 2,” declares the video. Most importantly, The Real World has “self-reliant infrastructure.” By that, Tate means tech platforms won’t boot him off. The video claims there are no payment processors or “matrix controlled servers” and they are using alternative banking systems. “We will show you how to escape…” it reads. “Join the resistance.” There isn’t a sports car in sight. ●