Russell Okung Will Become The First NFL Player To Have His Contract Paid Out In Bitcoin

The NFL is increasingly the site of fascinating contract negotiations, and the latest comes between offensive lineman Russell Okung and the Carolina Panthers, as Okung confirmed on Tuesday that he had convinced the Panthers to pay out half his salary via Bitcoin.

It fulfilled a desire Okung had expressed all the way back in May 2019 with that original tweet. Since he tweeted out the goal, Bitcoin’s value on the market has increased by 273 percent, according to William Foxley of Coindesk.

Throughout the rest of the morning, Okung talked on Twitter about transitioning into a “post-fiat” (or cash) economy, adopting what he called “sound money” (Bitcoin), and the oncoming “mass adoption” of Bitcoin.

The way Okung pulled off his momentous contract renegotiation was through Strike, a third-party company that will facilitate the payment of Okung’s checks and then convert them to Bitcoin and transfer them to a “cold storage wallet,” according to Strike founder Jack Mallers, who also spoke with Coindesk.

This all apparently makes the processing of Okung’s payments cheaper and quicker than using the Bitcoin market.

In a 2019 op-ed for Coindesk, Okung wrote that the digital nature of Bitcoin would allow athletes and others whose “economic power” is controlled by “optics and circumstances” such as financial intermediaries or even just a skeptical general public.

This tracks with a tweet Okung posted on Tuesday after the announcement calling on others to use Strike and put their money “into action.”

It remains to be seen whether others will fall in line behind Okung and take the plunge into digital currency, but it’s worth noting that Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has in the past discussed similarly inventive forms of compensation, including crowdfunding through Bitcoin.

Okung is also a free agent after this season, so it will be something to watch in 2021 whether he looks to be compensated more fully via Bitcoin in his next contract.