Rob Dyrdek’s TV Empire of Fun

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 John Sciulli / Getty Images

Sure, he’s created an empire of Ridiculousness, built on nut shots, fart machines and tennis ball guns. But Rob Dyrdek, the skateboard daredevil who has become one of MTV’s biggest cash cows, can also go deep.

“I’m exploring the theory of the universe,” Dyrdek says with a straight face. “I think we’re all energy here. The far-reaching sectors of the universe may never be explored until we turn ourselves into light energy.” He pauses, then laughs. “I just made that up from watching Through the Wormhole last night.”

Dyrdek, whose Street League Skateboarding has just unveiled a remodeled skate park in Chula Vista, California as piece of a new partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, has been harnessing his considerable energy as a branding savant since launching his pro career at age 16. He says his long-suffering parents, Gene and Patty Dyrdek of Ohio, would have preferred he go to college and become, say, an accountant.

In truth, though, his enormous value as a media mogul, youth-culture impresario and all-around social media phenomenon – his 30 million followers include two million on Instagram, and his various TV shows reached 100 million unique viewers in the past year — have made him a businessman operating at the top of his game.
   
“If my parents really understood how much I’ve learned that I could never learn in school, they’d be very proud,” says Dyrdek, who turned 40 in June. “Instead, I’m still their crazy kid, sagging his pants and dancing around on the laptop.”

After six seasons of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, which showcases the 25,000-square-foot warehouse where the host and his cohorts workshop their pranks and cockamamie ideas, MTV advertised the series finale. In June, however, Viacom announced a new deal with Dyrdek’s production company, including a surprise seventh season for Fantasy Factory and a new cooking show dubbed Snack-Off.

“When my mom found out about my deal with MTV and I told her the money, she started crying,” he says, mimicking her distress: “When is enough enough?”  

“I was raised by some very grounded, hardworking, Middle America parents,” Dyrdek explains, “but then I had mentors who were young entrepreneurs, creative people starting companies. I kinda molded this unique outlier’s way of growing up that laid the foundation to expand into all different types of things, from business ventures to entertainment.”

From his early sponsorship of DC Shoes to the development of Street League Skateboarding and his decade-long run with MTV, Dyrdek is up at 6 AM every morning working on his entrepreneurial fantasies, riding the zip line inside the Fantasy Factory. As off-kilter as his life appears on TV, like any good skater, he’s learned how to strike a balance.

“I’m always thinking,” he says. “I still enjoy doing a lot of the things that relentlessly help you grow — reading books, watching things that inspire you and taking the proper time to recharge, so you can continue to operate at a high level and do the more exciting things. My entire life is a single body of work.”