Carolina Panthers’ Russell Okung Becomes First NFL Player Paid In Bitcoin
Sports Technology

Carolina Panthers’ Russell Okung Becomes First NFL Player Paid In Bitcoin

Russell Okung
(Image: Twitter)

As digital dollars in the form of cryptocurrency continues to become more popular, a football player has become the first NFL player to be paid partly in bitcoin, according to Coin Desk.

Back in 2019, Carolina Panthers’ offensive lineman Russell Okun tweeted that he wanted to be paid in bitcoin.

As of December 2020, he was granted his request.

CoinDesk reports that Okun’s $13 million annual salary is being divided 50-50 between bitcoin yy way of Zap, a bitcoin startup that was started by Jack Mallers, and Fiat.

“It’s a big, big deal that we found a way to allow any individual to receive a [percentage] of their labor in bitcoin,” Mallers said.

Mallers also said that other pro athletes, including some members of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and baseball’s New York Yankees, have already begun onboarding to the program. Mallers revealed that the NFL and NFL Players Association had to be involved to get approval for the split payment for Okung.


According to a news release from Strike, the company states that Carolina Panthers player Okung is the first player in league history to receive part of his annual paycheck in the form of a digital currency.

Last year, in an op-ed on CoinDesk, Okung gave a brief explanation of bitcoin.

“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. Bitcoin is undermining the status quo of intermediaries: no more banks, no more money managers, no more governments telling you what you can and can’t do with your money. For me, it means sending money to a relative in Nigeria without asking for approval from anyone else. Imagine an economy that doesn’t require you to share all your personal details before making a purchase. Imagine a retirement plan that isn’t built on a foundation that is “too big to fail.”