Panthers’ Russell Okung becomes first NFL player to be paid half of his $13M salary in Bitcoin

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Photo: Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers’ offensive tackle Russell Okung has become the first NFL player to be paid half of his $13 million salary in Bitcoin.

According to Ian Rapoport, a national insider for NFL Network, Okung will receive half of his $13 million salary in Bitcoin.

As part of a partnership with ‘In Strike’ and thanks to the creative payroll solutions from the Carolina Panthers, Okung will fulfill the goal he set when he tweeted, “Pay me in Bitcoin!” Rapoport tweeted Tuesday.

“To be clear on how this works: The US Dollars for Okung’s paycheck goes into an account that is controlled by Strike with Okung as a custodian. When the dollars arrive it is automatically converted into Bitcoin. So when he gets his paycheck, he sees Bitcoin in his bitcoin wallet,” Rapoport tweeted.

The Panthers partnered with the Bitcoin platform Zap in order to split Okung’s 2020 salary, per CoinDesk’s William Foxley. Carolina will reportedly deposit $6.5 million into Zap’s “Strike” product, which will then swap the salary for Bitcoin.

That money will then be sent to Okung’s virtual wallet, completing a wish Okung noted one year ago.

Sports Illustrated reported that Okung could be the first of numerous athletes to receive salary via Bitcoin, per Zap founder Jack Mallers. Players from both the Brooklyn Nets and Yankees have reportedly shown interest in using the product, though it is unclear whether such a payment plan would be approved by the NBPA or MLBPA. 

Okung was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and is an American football offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and 2013 Super Bowl champion.

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