When in doubt, relax and watch a group of lovable guys cause chaos online. That’s exactly the format that has worked for the YouTube phenomenon Dude Perfect, who have amassed almost 60 million subscribers since their beginnings in 2009. Formed by Tyler Toney, Cody Jones, Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, and Garrett Hilbert, the channel aims to combine sports and comedy to create family-friendly entertainment. After meeting while they were at school, the now-famous five posted a basketball trick shot to YouTube, which was quickly picked up by outlets including Good Morning America. Since then, the group has gone on to bigger things, now being estimated to be worth approximately $57 million.
Not only is Dude Perfect known for its trick shots and chaotic YouTube content, but the group also has Guinness World Records, links to the world of basketball, and a growing entertainment portfolio all under its belt. While fans are frequently reminded of the group’s commitment to their faith and families, very little is known about the boys outside of what they show online. While other YouTubers are steeped in controversy and external projects, the Dude Perfect machine just keeps on truckin’. Here are some incredible facts that you may not know about the famous five.
Cory Cotton is a published author
Who says that the legacy of Dude Perfect has to be confined to YouTube videos? In 2011, Cory Cotton took the gang’s mission one step further by authoring his first book: "Go Big: Make Your Shot Count in the Connected World." Cotton takes a look back at how the boys and the channel came to be, and combines that with advice for readers who want to take their passions to the next level. According to Cotton, there are five practice principles to help sharpen skillsets and make dreams come true — and not all of them involve mastering the perfect trick shot through a basketball hoop.
In an interview with the writer’s blog Free The Pen, Cotton explained that the idea of being an author wasn’t something that came naturally. "About a year and a half ago, I felt God telling me to write this book. I thought that was stupid haha. But after a solid amount of hesitation, I decided to be obedient, and I started what turned out to be a long, difficult, but ultimately worthwhile process of seeing ‘Go Big’ published." Cotton also revealed that it might not be the only book he has up his sleeve: "I would absolutely love to write more books in the future. I don’t have a clue what they would be yet though."
Charity is their thing
In line with their Christian beliefs and values, the guys behind Dude Perfect are also frequently known to give back to those around them. According to their own website testimony, this was always part of the original plan: "There’s more to Dude Perfect than just having fun. We’re about giving back, spreading joy, and glorifying Jesus Christ." Coby Cotton expanded on this in a 2012 interview with Daily Dot, citing their regular involvement with water and Compassion International charities. "We have this platform, and we’re always thinking of the best ways to use it," he explained. "Going to Africa, we got to see all this stuff first-hand: the clean water crisis and the poverty. We’d never seen that thing up close until we took that trip."
Since then, their involvement with third-party organizations has only continued to grow. During the filming of their 2020 YouTube documentary "Dude Perfect: Backstage Pass," the boys are seen working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and end up winning the 2019 Chris Greicius Celebrity Award. On top of that, their quarantine YouTube challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic ended up collecting $85,000 in just over a week, which was distributed between Feeding American and the American Red Cross.
Dude Perfect are fathers first
One of the biggest changes within Dude Perfect since its inception in 2009 is that all of its members are now doting fathers. Moving away from their usual trick shot and sporting content, their 2022 YouTube video "New Parent Stereotypes" digs a little deeper into their adjustments to being dads and full-time YouTubers. The video also shows how much the Dude Perfect audience has grown up during the time the group has been active, with plenty of comments stating how much their comedic take on family life hits home.
Cody Jones was the first of the five to get married, subsequently having two daughters and a son with his wife Allison. Tyler Toney and Garrett Hilbert followed suit by both getting married in 2011 — with Toney now having two children and Hilbert three. The Cotton brothers were the last to get hitched, getting wed in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Coby welcomed his daughter in 2021, while Cory’s three children include another set of twins. In their YouTube documentary, the group frequently speaks about how they always operate as fathers first, and how their content and livelihoods will be dictated by the needs of their families.
They are technically Harlem Globetrotters
For long-time fans of Dude Perfect, their relationship and deep roots with basketball will come as no surprise. By the time famous viewers started to take notice of the group in 2011, the boys were able to strike up a friendly rivalry with basketball superstars the Harlem Globetrotters. Both parties worked together on video content, including the "Fishing Pole Shot" and trick shot world records, with the Globetrotters still hungry for victory 11 years on. Before the Globetrotters’ 2015 draft, the teams joined forces at Dude Perfect HQ, the Ranch, for a friendly game of H.O.R.S.E — with Dude Perfect leaving a bigger impression than they could have ever dreamed of.
Alongside Mo’one Davies and Alex Morgan, Dude Perfect was actually selected to become a part of the team in the 2015 draft. Despite the excitement surrounding this, there was never any official word on whether Dude Perfect took up their invitation or not.
Their 14 Guinness World Records could be blemished
As of 2023, the Dude Perfect team currently holds a total of 14 Guinness World Records. Though the figure is an impressive amount for anyone to maintain, getting them hasn’t always been a smooth process. Back in 2009, the group set the Guinness World Record for the longest basketball shot, after shooting from the third deck of Kyle Field. Though they successfully managed to extend their record in 2010 by performing a "cross-tower" shot from a height of 66 meters, their attempts to do so again in 2011 were actually unofficial. Though they would later break more basketball shot records from differing heights and lengths, their shot from the top of NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas didn’t meet official regulations.
The controversy continued in 2014 when the team sunk a 561-foot shot at Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas. Though regional news and fans alike were impressed, the same couldn’t be said for Guinness — as they didn’t officially recognize the shot as the longest basket. According to the World Records, the 2022 attempt by Louisiana basketball coach Joshua Walker seals the deal, as he sank a 113-foot 6-inch shot.
Celebrities love them
Even before the trick shot titans made their way into international news, the scope of Dude Perfect’s fans was already impressive. By the time they were landing top-tier challenge content on YouTube in 2015, celebrities such as Tim McGraw, Odell Beckham Jr., and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had all been eager to get involved. One highlight — which now has over 47 million views — shows "Ant-Man" star Paul Rudd hitting some home runs in an empty baseball stadium, with fans going wild in the comments for his surprising cameo. It could be argued that this was the moment that Dude Perfect turned from YouTube success stories into international stars, setting them on the path toward achieving goals such as novels and nationwide tours.
A-list celebs including Zac Efron, Jeff Goldblum, and Liam Hemsworth have also all been featured on the channel, taking part in a growing list of challenges including drone racing battles. The group’s appetite for collaborating with famous faces has grown so much over the years that these appearances have gone beyond Dude Perfect’s YouTube videos. In early 2023, it was announced that celebrities including Tauren Wells, Dave Barnes, and Rick Smith Jr. would all appear on the Dude Perfect Cruise around the Bahamas.
The are lots of Panda identity theories
Since Dude Perfect began perfecting trick shots in their backyard, they have often had a furry face following them around. A panda is featured in many of the group’s videos, cheering the guys on and doing silly dance moves — but never uttering a word. In 2013, the group commented on a Johnny Manziel video that the identity of the panda was Garrett Hilbert’s younger brother, Pierce. Since then, however, there has been frequent speculation that the panda has continued to be played by multiple people.
Ever since the group’s ad-hoc announcement, fans have had plenty of theories on who they believe may have played the panda in the past. Some Reddit users have pointed out that the Dude Perfect boys have previously stated that they have each taken turns wearing the costume themselves, while another widely accepted theory is that the panda is often played by Jeff, Tyler Toney’s dad. The speculation has reached the stage that even other YouTubers have joined in with the guessing game, such as the Gear Up channel, which assessed suspects including former cameraman Sean Townsend. The promise of officially revealing the panda’s identity has always been teased — but only if the Dude Perfect channel reaches the same level of subscribers as PewDiePie.
Dude Perfect might not live forever
It’s no surprise that a YouTube channel might not exist until the end of time, with platforms such as TikTok continually gaining popularity and threatening to take over the world of content as we know it. Even with an unknown future looming, Dude Perfect’s previous comments about how they’d like to continue are pretty conflicting. In a 2015 interview with The Kernel, Tyler Toney insinuated that their future wouldn’t last too long: "We don’t want to be 40-year-olds on YouTube doing basketball shots." However, later interviews suggest that the group might have changed their tune.
Speaking to Modern Huntsman, Garrett Hilbert explained why they don’t want to take a guaranteed future for granted. "We’re very humbled by the fact we have millions and millions of people who want to follow us as we have fun for a living," Hilbert said. "We don’t go a day without being grateful for that. As long as that continues, the future plan is to just continue to provide entertainment and fun for this world that has a lot of dark stuff and a lot of hate going around." This was later reiterated in their documentary by Cory Cotton, who said that he still sees the platform as a chance to "do something meaningful."
Tyler Toney is a keen hunter
While sports and trick shots might be what the group is best known for, the individual members of Dude Perfect also have separate interests that define their personalities. For Tyler Toney, it’s a love of hunting and fishing. Toney recounted to Modern Huntsman how he grew up with a love of the hunt. "I grew up hunting and fishing, and being in the outdoors has always been synonymous with time spent around my grandfathers and my dad," he explained. "I can remember being five years old and taking my bb gun and just following my dad around our deer lease, thinking that I was going to shoot something with it."
This childhood love can still be seen on Toney’s Instagram feed, where he poses with catches including deer, turkey, and a 350-pound blue marlin. His Modern Huntsman interview also touched on the fact he would like to change the reputation of hunting, hoping that what Dude Perfect chooses to align with changes the thinking of their viewers. "I would hope that kids and adults alike would look at that and say, ‘Hey, you know what? I eat meat. Why wouldn’t I give this a shot and see what this whole hunting and conservation thing is like?’ Through what we’re doing now, we’re able to reach people who are open to hearing about that stuff."
Tyler Toney and his wife struggled with parenthood
While Tyler Toney is a huge part of both Dude Perfect and the growing social hunting scene, he is first and foremost a family man. Marrying his wife Bethany in 2011, the pair went on to have three children. The journey to getting pregnant wasn’t all plain sailing for them though, with both Tyler and Bethany openly discussing their struggles on an episode of the YouTube series I Am Second. Bethany revealed that Tyler left the family unit for the first Dude Perfect tour only a week after their middle son was brought home from the hospital. "While he was doing that, I was at home building up all of this resentment and bitterness," she recalled. "It was almost like a toxin coming into my system."
The pair explained that their family unit reached the breaking point when Bethany found out she was pregnant with their youngest son. While Bethany struggled with being a mother to three children under five largely on her own, Tyler spoke about rebuilding his relationship with his faith to help repair his marriage. "When you have a community of people around you who are able to reveal some of those things to you, your perspective can change in those situations," he admitted.
It all started at Texas A&M
One of the most frequently asked questions for the Dude Perfect boys is the story of how they all met. In their YouTube documentary "Dude Perfect: Backstage Pass," the guys go into their almost lifelong friendship in more detail. Back in 2007, the five met at Texas A&M University in College Station. Though it’s known for its academic success, its sporting stories aren’t too far behind — making the groundwork for Dude Perfect’s beginnings pretty easy to follow. Tyler Toney remembered meeting the Cotton twins with particular fondness: "I showed up at their house, and they’re learning the Soulja Boy dance on their projector … I was like "Okay, I guess I can get on board with that."
Coby Cotton explained that he ended up living with his brother Corey and Toney all in one house: "Garrett was too clean for us. He was down the street." Between their natural disdain for their classes and instant love of spending time outdoors, nature, and all things sports, it wasn’t long before the friends began filming themselves messing around and trying to land stunts. One basketball trick was posted to YouTube, and the rest was history.
Their tour made sure they did more than just trick shots
Taking their skills to a live audience is something that Dude Perfect are not strangers to. With front-row tickets going for as much as $350 per person, it’s safe to say that the excitement about seeing trick shots happen in front of your eyes hasn’t waned since the group’s inception in 2009. However, years of touring have provided another reason for the boys’ ongoing live success, by moving what they do beyond what people see online. While setting up for their most recent tour, Dude Perfect is seen to incorporate music, game show elements, and audience participation into a whirlwind experience of sports and point scoring.
Though incredible trick shots still make up a huge part of what they do, the group cites segments like their comedic sketches as some of the most popular videos they have ever created. In their documentary, the group explained that making sure that their Rage Monster content could be adapted for their live shows was incredibly important because of its overwhelming popularity.
Dude Perfect was a weekend thing for five years
Unlike what most people would expect from content creators, the team behind Dude Perfect didn’t become an overnight success. After their first basketball trick shot video gained traction on YouTube and got the attention of national press, figuring out how to maintain doing what they loved was a tricky hurdle to navigate. Toney and Hilbert explained to Modern Huntsman that even when they had no idea what they were doing, timing was everything. "Our first brand deal was nine years ago, and we had no idea what we were getting into," said Toney. "We sent it to my dad, who ran that first brand deal for us, and went on to become our business manager."
While things were picking up, all five members of Dude Perfect still had full-time jobs — but soon found themselves in the middle of job transitions. According to their documentary, it was the collective decision to quit their jobs and take the plunge that made the platform successful, instead of working nine to five and making all of their content on the weekend. "At one point, we were all in job transitions and thought that we might as well give this Dude Perfect thing a go full-time. Since we decided to do that, it just exploded," Hilbert told Modern Huntsman.
Tyler was the one who almost left first
Though the decision to focus on the Dude Perfect platform full-time was the one that ultimately made it a success, being in a position to do so was something that almost drove the group apart. In the "Dude Perfect: Backstage Pass" documentary, Coby Cotton explained that the fact that the group was almost finished before they really began is something they never really talk about publicly. "After college, we basically went our separate ways," revealed Cotton. "We were all living in different cities, a couple of us got married, we all started new jobs. We were in different stages of life at the time."
The guys all agree that trying to make money — let alone a career — out of videos on YouTube was unheard of at the time. While Dude Perfect was trying to film content on the Goodyear Blimp around their jobs in 2012, Tyler Toney received a call from his boss who berated him for missing too much work. It quickly felt as though he would be the first to leave, but it was actually the moment that led to Dude Perfect becoming a full-time endeavor. "There were all these opportunities on our doorstep and we took advantage of it," explained Cody Jones.
Branding their segments was easier than it looked
After Dude Perfect became a legitimate job for the famous five, the platform became a brand name. While the boys could have been confined to shooting basketball hoops from crazy heights, diversifying different segments under their branding was actually much easier than it seemed. As author of one of the first external projects that came out after Dude Perfect went full-time, Cory Cotton explained in his interview with Free The Pen that turning their story into a book felt like a true calling: "I rest in the fact that, at the end of the day, I obeyed Jesus with the call to write a book about all that he’s allowed us to do over the past two years."
The Dude Perfect documentary delves deeper into the thinking behind the projects, with the group acknowledging that Cotton’s book, a merchandise line a series of games, and a TV show all came along in relatively quick fashion. Their sudden expansion of the brand was also the reason that the group decided they needed a permanent base, setting up their first HQ in Frisco, Texas.
Coby Cotton is a legitimate astronaut
In August 2022, Dude Perfect content took yet another turn for the better. Thanks to a partnership between the five guys and the crypto company MoonDAO, Coby Cotton was present for the launch of the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket — which technically makes him a fully-fledged astronaut. He was one of the six who made up the crew for its maiden voyage, which also included Vanessa O’Brien, Clint Kelly III, Sara Sabry, and Steve Young. While the flight itself only amounted to 10 minutes, Cotton actually beat out his fellow Dude Perfect members to take the voyage for himself.
True to Dude Perfect form, Cotton began his journey to astronaut immortality through a competition. With their seat purchased by MoonDAO, his rocket launched the highest in their YouTube video "Model Rocket Battle 3." With his flight reaching a peak altitude of 350,000 feet and speeds of over 2,200 miles an hour, Coby Cotton’s official astronaut registration is certainly worth its weight in gold. A bonus fact? Blue Origin’s founder is none other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Cory Cotton’s name isn’t even Cory
Cory and Coby Cotton’s first names might trip off the tongue, but it might lead to fans getting them getting more confused than necessary. However, according to multiple fans and celebrity outlets, Cory was actually born William Cory Cotton. Coby’s first name also isn’t as it appears; he was born as John Coby Cotton before shortening his name. From a branding and content perspective, using Coby and Cory as first names makes a lot more sense. It’s extremely catchy for the twins alone but also ties in with fellow member Cody Jones.
The names of the majority of Dude Perfect aren’t the only weird coincidence between them. All members except for Tyler Toney were born in 1987 — with Garrett Hilbert the oldest, the Cotton twins two months younger than him, and Cody Jones born three months after that. Tyler Toney was born two years later in 1989, surprisingly making him the youngest of the bunch. In an interview with Studio 22 Podcast, the guys recounted how the strength of their friendship made Dude Perfect such a success — and with all of these coincidences, it’s easy to see why they were drawn together.
Cory Cotton has struggled with Bell’s Palsy
Though it’s all fun and games (literally) in front of the camera, there has been plenty of work that has gone on behind the scenes to get the guys to where they are. A lot of this responsibility has fallen in the lap of Cory Cotton, who was instrumental in editing the channel’s videos in their early years. The boys were known to work with an external team, such as their friend and cameraman Sean Townsend. Together with Chad Terrell and Tim Holt, Cotton fronted the original editing team, putting the Speech Communications Bachelor’s degree he earned at Texas A&M to good use.
However, his dedication to editing had a nasty side effect. In their YouTube documentary, Cotton explained that he struggled with Bell’s Palsy as a result of spending too much time editing videos. "I had edited for three straight nights in a row, and I woke up in the morning, went to the sink to brush my teeth, and noticed that all of the water was dripping down my face," he recalled. "I moved my mouth and realized that one side of my face was totally paralyzed." As Dude Perfect has continued to grow, Cotton is no longer actively involved in editing — with the new team consisting of Holt, Terrell, Derek Van Althuis, and Shon Niswanger.
Cody Cotton was a Grace Bible Youth leader
The fact that the Dude Perfect team is fully invested in their Christian faith will come as no surprise to hardcore fans. A 2020 video segment for CBN News showed the group praying while on a charity visit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This sense of worship went one step further for Cody Jones, whose devotion to Christianity turned a corner while at university. Jones became a Grace Bible Youth Leader while at Texas A&M, which was around the same time he made friends with the Dude Perfect gang.
According to the Grace Bible Youth Group, their aim is to transform the lives of young students with the word of God. Details of Cody’s exact involvement in the group are unknown — though he’s not the only one who has leaned further into his faith. Tyler Toney’s Instagram bio proclaims that he is a "sinner saved by Jesus," while outlets such as Christian Headlines are keen to follow the group and their ever-growing endeavors. In line with their faith and values, Dude Perfect announced in late 2022 that they would be opening a family-friendly entertainment center dedicated to the glorification of Christ.
There have been plenty of claims Dude Perfect is fake
When Dude Perfect first leapt onto the home page of YouTube, they were almost unanimously deemed to be pretty impressive. However, as more time has passed, people have become wary of their effortless trick shots. Various YouTube videos have surfaced trying to dispel how the group might fake their trick shots in the hope of exposing them, with theories including green morph suits and editing transitions responsible for how they ensure their own success. The conversation has also exploded onto online forums, with Reddit users both tentatively questioning what they are seeing and being completely convinced, like this user, that Dude Perfect frequently uses CGI.
Thankfully, the boys behind Dude Perfect have a pretty good sense of humor about it all. The channel has uploaded multiple videos aiming to dispel the rumors that they fake their content, each poking fun at the idea that the team uses extra effects to get results. The more that fans have discussed the issue over time, the more people have agreed that it’s much more likely that the team try the trick over and over until they get it right.
They made a movie with NBC
In 2019, Dude Perfect once again took their work to a new level by creating their very own movie: "Dude Perfect Trick Shots." Not to be confused with the YouTube documentary the team made for their live tour in 2020, this collaboration with NBC takes the best of their trick shots and put them on the big screen. Not only did fans get exclusive commentary for the featured pranks and challenges, but the boys also held hidden secrets and never-before-seen stories back for the DVD release. The boys can be seen throwing basketballs out of planes, sledding along a snowy mountain range, and using a tree as a giant catapult across a football field. All in a day’s work, really.
With a score of 7.5 on IMDB, the 90 minutes of untold stories was possibly the ideal setup for Dude Perfect to expand their horizons and fanbase. The film wasn’t only a hit with younger viewers, but parents have commented that the film shows a good-natured rivalry and the five team members as positive role models. With fans still trying to replicate their own trick shots to this day, the media impact of Dude Perfect goes beyond both their videos and their movie.
They are teasing bigger and better things
As time has marched on — and fans have become more familiar with Dude Perfect’s format — it could be said that the boys might have run out of surprises. Some Reddit users have commented on the change in the pace of the platform within the last year, picking up on changes in their personal interactions and critiquing the quality of their content. However, the group might be about to take all of their fans (and haters) by surprise. Not only has Variety reported that Dude Perfect is set to take over the 2023 NFL draft, but the team’s social accounts are teasing something even bigger and better to come.
While the eventual announcement could take the shape of something we have seen before — whether that’s a live tour, new YouTube segment, or types of merchandise — Dude Perfect could also be launching itself into entirely new territory. Alongside extending their basketball claim to fame, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that the boys could be looking to grow internationally.