Russell Okung of the Carolina Panthers has become the first player of the National Football League (NFL) to be paid in Bitcoin.
This news comes as a dream come true for Russell Okung. The athlete first demanded this circumstance back in May 2019 when he tweeted, “Pay me in Bitcoin.”
Pay me in Bitcoin.
— russ (@RussellOkung) May 14, 2019
After 20 months and a BTC price increase of 273%, Okung has become the first NFL player to receive payment in Bitcoin.
His payment arrangement is handled by the Bitcoin startup, Zap, which was founded by Jack Mallers. The payment is made possible by their use of Strike, a product by Zap which allows the conversion of traditional paychecks into Bitcoin. In a phone interview with CoinDesk, Mallers revealed that Okung’s large annual salary of $13 million will be split equally between fiat and Bitcoin.
About the Strike Payment System
In technical terms, Russell Okung is still being paid in fiat currency. However, behind the scenes, the Carolina Panthers will send a direct deposit to Strike, which can then convert the dollars to Bitcoin. When the dollars become Bitcoin, the BTC will then be sent to Okung via his cold storage wallet.
According to Mallers, Strike is currently processing into the “seven figures” in regards to monthly volume. As more big names adopt this new payment method, Strike hopes that the number will increase. Currently, Strike has no percentage for processing payments, but Mallers revealed that that may change as more people adopt the payment system.
“It’s a big, big deal that we found a way to allow any individual to receive a [percentage] of their labor in Bitcoin,” said Mallers.
Mallers further revealed that other high-ranking athletes from the New York Yankees baseball team and the Brooklyn Nets basketball team have started adopting this payment program. Getting approval for the program for Russell Okung required the involvement of the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Whether approval is also required from the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball in regards to athletes in their leagues is still unclear.
Russell Okung’s Bitcoin journey started a long time ago, even before his tweet in May 2019. The linesman had earlier expressed his longtime frustration over the lack of economic power held by professional athletes, especially black athletes. The 32-year-old athlete sees Bitcoin as an avenue through which financial independence can be regained. To further advance his beliefs towards Bitcoin, Russell Okung has launched a Bitcoin advocacy program.
Russell Okung is not the only player to express interest in Bitcoin. Over the last few years, a number of other football players have asked to be paid in Bitcoin or have advocated the benefits of cryptocurrency. Some of these NFL players include Oren Burks (Green Bay Packers), Richard Sherman (San Francisco 49ers), Sidney Rice (formerly of the Minnesota Vikings), and Matt Barkley (Buffalo Bills).
As of the time of publication, Bitcoin price was $36,924.41 with a 24-hour trading volume of $71,027,194,893. BTC price also rose up 8.5% over the previous 24 hours. BTC has a circulating supply of 18.5 million coins and a max supply of 21 million. Besides, FTX is the current most active market trading Bitcoin.
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