Russell Okung is now looking forward to receing the NFL’s first Bitcoin salary. The Carolina Panthers’ offensive tackle had initially floated his wish in May 2019, but finally, the wish came true at the best time in Bitcoin’s history.
After weeks of flirting with a $30,000 price tag, Bitcoin finally made its way to a record-setting, all-time high of $33,000. With the weakening of the US dollar, more and more investors are making a last-minute effort to consolidate the decentralized asset before new-highs. As long as interest rates remain low, Bitcoin can pick up more fans.
What does all this mean for Okung? The promise of economic empowerment for professional players is the best Bitcoin pay he hopes to receive for the NFL player. Besides, Bitcoin has been floated as the magic bullet that could end the hardship many, especially minorities, face under the dollar system.
Okung’s hefty $13 million a year salary comes in fiat. The conversion from fiat to Bitcoin happens behind-the-scenes via Zap, a Bitcoin investment, and payment company. Zap’s product, called Strike, enables users to receive the traditional paycheck converted to Bitcoin.
While this system is still far from what many envision a Bitcoin salary to be, it comes close enough for now. Okung’s $13 million will be split 50-50 in both Bitcoin and dollar denominations. As Bitcoin keeps breaking boundaries, perhaps other professional players will jump on this chance to become part of this revolution.
It is rumored that several pro athletes are considering or have already started the move to Bitcoin salaries. There are rumours that unnamed Brooklyn Nets and New York Yankees players are on-board with the Bitcoin paycheck program. Whether this can be the next frontier in the fight to rival the dollar is yet to be determined.
Unfortunately for many, Bitcoin exists in what some may characterise as a legal grey area. This means that it is unclear where players (and teams) need to seek approvals to make Bitcoin salaries a standard.
For now, at least, NFL players needed to get approval from the NFL and the NFL players’ association. It is still unclear whether the NBA and MLB leagues require their players to apply for approval before receiving payment in BTC.
The way Okung’s Bitcoin salary works is quite simple. Okung’s team, the Carolina Panthers, directly deposit his pay to Strike, which will then convert the amount into dollars and Bitcoin. In his case, his Bitcoin is sent into a cold storage wallet he owns.
In the future, Strike will be used along with a checking account. That means Okung might buy his next home with a Bitcoin check, too. In the meantime, the lineman is working on spreading the word on Bitcoin.
It’s an open secret that the sports industry’s economics works against the athletes, particularly black players. As such, Okung views Bitcoin as a means of financial independence and economic empowerment. In that regard, he has also launched an advocacy project to promote digital currency.