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As it continues to soar, Bitcoin is gaining more and more followers each day. The army of Bitcoins supporters is expanding beyond just tech and finance. Plenty of celebrities, actors, and musicians have already dabbled in cryptocurrency. It seems that the athletes are next in line.
We already heard the news that some of them are converting their salaries into Bitcoin. It appears that professional athletes, celebrities, actors, and musicians feel that Bitcoin is more stable long term than the US Dollar. The most talked-about examples are the Brooklyn Nets guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, and some NY Yankees. And now, we have the first NFL player following in their footsteps.
Russell Okung, Carolina’s offensive lineman, is about to make history. He is set to become the first NFL player to earn Bitcoin playing football. Not directly, though. Some media outlets reported that he’ll straight up receive cryptocurrency from his employer. That’s not actually the case. The Panther, under current regulations, can only pay their players in US dollars. Still, Okung managed to find a way to turn his salary into Bitcoin immediately.
Okung’s setup includes a partnership with the crypto platform Zap. The platform in question is a Bitcoin startup founded by Jack Mallers. Okung hasn’t explained why he chose Zap among other similar companies. It’s still unclear whether the player has agreed to a deal with Zap to promote their service. Notably, Mallers has frequently referred to Carolina’s player as his friend. The process of turning salary to crypto will go through Zap’s wallet and banking service, Strike. The deal is rather simple. The Panthers will deposit half of Okung’s paycheck to Strike who will convert it to Bitcoin. Presumably after taking a fee.
Paid in Bitcoin. https://t.co/Ey6oOcmLjA
— russ (@RussellOkung) December 29, 2020
The decision hasn’t come out of the blue for Okung. He’s been a strong proponent of Bitcoin for a while. Way back in May 2019 he tweeted: Pay me in Bitcoin. Twenty months later, he quoted this old tweet with: Paid in Bitcoin. Notably, the Bitcoin value has increased by 273% in the meantime. Okung has often been expressing his frustration with the lack of economic power of pro-athletes, especially black ones. NFL star has dedicated a lot of his time to promoting cryptocurrencies and educating people on the impacts of inflation. Upon staging the deal, he issued a statement saying that opting for Bitcoin is the first step toward economic independence. His views on crypto and the current economy have already gained him many followers. Some well-known Bitcoin supporters, including Michael Saylor and Anthony Pompliano, have expressed their support.
Some analysts believe that Okung’s decision could add more credibility to Bitcoin. It could easily be the trigger for more athletes opting to go this route. Jack Mallers stated that Zap already has a number of other athletes coming onboard with the program. Investments of this kind could be well worth a while for many players. Those on the lower end of the salary range could find this especially appealing. Still, several financial advisors expressed concerns about the risk of investing in cryptocurrencies. Digital coins, including Bitcoin, are still very volatile. So, the athletes will have to decide whether to risk the guaranteed contract dollars to bet on Bitcoin’s value.