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Springfield YouTuber interviews Michelle Obama

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A Springfieldian who runs a popular YouTube channel today is slated to interview former first lady Michelle Obama.

Jesse George, who’s known as Jesse The Reader through his book-reviewing YouTube channel, spoke to Springfield Business Journal this morning as he was preparing to leave his hotel in Austin, Texas, for the interview.

“I’m really nervous. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen today,” he said. “It’s viewer focused. They had our viewers send in questions. We’re going to be using that to interview her.”

George said he’s one of six Youtubers who will interview Obama at Google’s Austin campus as she promotes her new book, “Becoming.” He said the footage should come out in April.

George said the interview with Obama came after YouTube emailed him twice asking him to take on the gig. The first time, he ignored it because he thought it was fake.

“They followed up and said, ‘No, this is real,’” George said. “Because it’s surrounding her book and my channel is primarily about reading, they wanted to work with me on it.”

George, who has more than 315,000 YouTube subscribers, reviews books and enjoys “making comedic content surrounding books to get people excited about reading.” Working as a YouTuber full-time, he’s part of a group of content creators collectively known as BookTube. YouTube pays content creators a portion of advertising revenue.

George started the channel in 2012 and has continued to live in Springfield as it’s grown, pushing past the 315,000 subscriber mark in November 2018.

“I started YouTube in college because I didn’t have a lot of friends at the time and I needed an outlet,” he said. “I never imagined that it would grow to the scale that it currently is at.”

Obama’s previous ties to Springfield include a trip she made in 2013 at a local Walmart to promote her "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity, a project she took on when she was still first lady, according to SBJ archives. Her husband, former President Barack Obama, made at least two stops in Springfield on the campaign trail in 2008.

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