Carolina Panthers’ Russell Okung has become the first NFL player to be paid partially in Bitcoin (BTC). The football star has consented to receive half of his $13 million wages in bitcoin through Bitcoin startup Zap.
Legally, Okung is still being compensated in fiat, although the salary checks are now sent via direct deposit to Zap – A startup that converts fiat paychecks into Bitcoin. The NFL player’s yearly salary is now being split 50-50 between Bitcoin and fiat.
Russell Okung Became the First Player to Be Paid in Bitcoin
Back in May 2019, Okung tweeted that he wanted to be paid in Bitcoin. As of December 2020, his wish becomes a reality being the first player from any major U.S. sports league to be paid in Bitcoin.
Zap founder Jack Mallers, a friend of Okung, told CoinDesk that other pro athletes, including members of both the Yankees and Brooklyn Nets, have also joined the program. He also revealed that the NFL and NFL Players Association had to get approval for the split payment for Okung.
Zap’s Strike product enables typical paychecks to be converted into BTC. The strike will receive the direct deposit from Carolina Panthers and then swap the dollars for Bitcoin to put it merely. Those Bitcoin will then be sent to a cold storage wallet held by Okung.
Okung Has Been Long-Time Bitcoin Advocate
Okung has been a long-time Bitcoin enthusiast and promotes other professional athletes to adopt it to give them economic power. The athlete shared in various interviews that he has long been frustrated with professional athletes’ economic governance, especially Black athletes. Okung believes that Bitcoin is a way of regaining one’s financial independence.
Last year, in an opinion piece on CoinDesk, Okung showed his views on the digital currency, saying:
“Bitcoin is like digital gold. No one entity owns it or controls it. It is a scarce asset, which means there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in existence. It has a proven 11-year track record that is unmatched by any Silicon Valley unicorn.”