The leading offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers has not become the first player in the NFL to have his salary paid in Bitcoin. 32-year-old Russell Okung has claimed on his own social media handles that he is “paid in Bitcoin”. Subsequently, Okung has made something of a name for himself in cryptocurrency circles of late, with misleading headlines on the loose. However, an NFL spokesperson has burst his bubble by insisting that his claims are “not accurate”.
Instead, the reality is that Okung’s “people” are choosing to “convert” some of his $13 million salary into Bitcoin – after he is paid in US dollars. Okung has his salary paid in fiat currency and then converts half of his direct debit from the Panthers into Bitcoin using mobile payments firm Strike. Once the money is converted into Bitcoin, Strike will store the BTC in Okung’s private cold storage wallet which is housed offline.
In his official statement regarding his salary, Okung said that he had been asking for the Panthers and his former NFL employers, the LA Chargers, to pay his salary fully in Bitcoin for the last two seasons. Okung labelled the fiat economy “manipulated” and “corrupt” and saw his investments in Bitcoin as the “first step” of opting out of this way of life.
It’s fair to say that Okung will be delighted with the recent developments on the price of Bitcoin in recent weeks. On 21st February 2021, the price of Bitcoin peaked at just over $58,000. This is up from $5,355 in March 2020, representing a ten-fold rise in the space of 11 months. Allegedly, when Bitcoin’s value reached the $56,000 milestone, the half of Okung’s salary that’s been invested into Bitcoin became worth more than his entire quoted $13 million salary.
Savvy athletes would applaud Okung for his move considering that the NFL is introducing caps on athletes’ salaries from the 2021 season. This $180 million cap shouldn’t affect Okung’s income given that he was on a contract worth $53 million at his former employers the LA Chargers and the Carolina Panthers are unlikely to be paying him more than this. Nevertheless, Okung has been able to scale up his income with very little risk at present. His strategy is to “stack sats” and watch “[the] price go up” and when the price “goes down” he opts to “stack again”. Although he insisted this “isn’t financial advice” to Panthers fans.
Carolina fans will be hoping that Okung sticks to dishing out tackles than cryptocurrency investment advice next season too. The Panthers remain well off the pace when it comes to the NFL teams most likely to be competing in next year’s Super Bowl LVI. Carolina are priced as +5000 long shots with FOX Bet, who are a leading sports betting analyst in the US market, serving New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Michigan at present.
In fact, there is every chance that Okung may have played his last game in a Panthers jersey. Free agency for the 2021 NFL season is only a matter of days away and Okung’s contract with Carolina is set to expire. The 6ft 5” powerhouse missed the first nine games of the regular 2020 season following a calf problem. Once he returned for the final seven games, it’s fair to say that Okung struggled to get up to the pace of the game. Okung gave up three sacks and dished out four reckless penalties during his time on the field.
Some will argue that for the Panthers to look to the future and build a more durable and successful team they need to remould their offensive line with younger, more agile faces. The stats don’t add up for Okung given that he’s not played a full season in the NFL since 2018, with injuries starting to take their toll. It’s fair to say that Okung could well be thanking his lucky stars that he invested his final Panthers salaries into Bitcoin in advance of the recent bull run.