Panthers’ Russell Okung Becomes First NFL Player to Be Paid in Bitcoin

Russell Okung
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Professional athletes love to get paid, but one particular professional athlete is getting paid like none other.

Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung has become the first NFL player to get paid in Bitcoin.

Okung is the first player from any of the four major U.S. sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL) to get paid in Bitcoin, according to CoinDesk. The move was so unprecedented that it required the approval of the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The exact payment will be 50 percent of his $13 million salary. The payments will come to Okung through Zap, an outfit that converts paychecks to Bitcoin.

“The 32-year-old Texas native likely won’t be the last professional athlete to be paid via digital currency,” the New York Post reports. “Zap founder Jack Mallers told CoinDesk that unnamed players on both the Yankees and Brooklyn Nets have joined the program.

“Bitcoin has been on a tear as of late, surging past the $20,000 mark for the first time earlier this month and recently trading as high as $28,387 per coin.”

Okung is currently in his 11th year in the league, and his first in Carolina.


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