Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung, an outspoken bitcoiner, will earn $13 million in salary in 2020, half of which he has confirmed will be paid in Bitcoin. He has become the first player from any major U.S. sports league to receive a salary via Bitcoin.
The Panthers have partnered with the Bitcoin platform Zap to split Okung’s 2020 salary. The Panthers will deposit $6.5 million into Zap’s “Strike’ product, which will then swap the dollars into bitcoin, and send the funds to Okung’s virtual wallet.
“Professional athletes committed themselves to becoming elite workers in their industry, investing significant human capital to earn their place in society,” Okung, who was selected with the No 6 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and two-time Pro Bowler and 2013 Super Bowl champion, wrote in a CoinDesk column in December 2019. “Bitcoin offers a way to protect that hard-earned capital from the whims of central bankers who keep printing more money to bail out their friends on Wall Street.”
He added: “It is time for us to embrace our economic sovereignty by allocating at least 5% of our wealth into bitcoin.”
According to Zap founder Jack Mallers, players from the Brooklyn Nets and Yankees have shown interest in using the product.
Okung has long preserved the ideological origins of Bitcoin. Just today he tweeted: “It’s all about being a sovereign individual.”
He also tweeted that “When we are all paid in Bitcoin, no one can tell us what to do with the value we create.”