Cryptocurrencies are getting wide acceptance and many people and especially athletes are preferring to get paid in crypto such as Bitcoin. A number of players including NBA players and other professional players like Lionel Messi get their payments in the form of ‘fan tokens’ (a form of cryptocurrency) that are created by the team. In this article, I am going to focus on athletes getting paid in crypto and why they prefer to get paid in crypto.
Why Athletes Are Getting Paid in Crypto
- Crypto salaries for athletes protect their wealth against inflation. Cryptos such as Bitcoin are considered a store of value.
- Being an investment asset, cryptocurrency can be used as an alternative to stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, p2p investment, etc. Crypto investments include p2p crypto backed loans, crypto interest accounts and dollar cost averaging.
- Crypto acceptance is gaining momentum worldwide. OnJuno Bank, Strike App, and crypto payroll firms such as Bitwage allow you to convert your salary in crypto.
Teams that Have Approved Crypto Salaries
Sports team that allow their players to receive their salaries in cryptocurrency include the following.
- Sacramento Kings
- MLB team Oakland Athletics
- Southampton Football Club
- Perth Heat
- AZ Alkmaar
Some athletes such as the Nigeria Ifunanyachi Achara and Kieran Gibbs didn’t need approval from their employers because of crypto payroll companies, crypto finance firms and crypto friendly banks that allow you to automatically convert your salary into cryptocurrency.
Sports team such as the Dallas Mavericks have started accepting Bitcoin and other altcoins for game tickets and merchandise.
Athletes Getting Paid in Bitcoin
There’s a growing number of athletes and professional players who want to be paid in cryptocurrency. The following are some of the players getting paid in crypto.
In May 2019, Russell Okung tweeted “Pay Me in Bitcoin”. Later, in December 2020, Okung made a headline as being the first professional athlete to get paid in Bitcoin. He converted his 13-million-dollar salary to Bitcoin using a company called Zap. Zap is a company that owns Strike, the app that allows you to convert your salary into crypto.
At the time Okung converted his $7.5 million salary to Bitcoin, the Bitcoin price was about $27,318. And since then, the price has doubled. The surge in the price of Bitcoin saw him get high Bitcoin profit and would have made him one of the top 25 highest-paid NFL players. Currently, Okung has about $13.8 million worth of BTC while he still gets $6.5 million in cash from the rest of his salary.
Strike is a non-custodial platform that utilizes Bitcoin Lighting Network to make USD instant payments and pay for goods and services. In addition, you can use Strike to convert your salary from fiat to Bitcoin without a fee.
A big thank you to @xbtogroup in helping me convert 50% of my salary into #Bitcoin. I’ve been a fan of BTC and the potential of crypto for a few years now and being in Miami continues to open my eyes on the fascinating innovation in this space. Exciting times ahead! #BTC #hodl pic.twitter.com/flmS3igab0
— Kieran Gibbs (@KieranGibbs) November 24, 2021
In 2021, Kieran Gibbs decided to convert 50% of his Inter Miami salary to Bitcoin. He converts his fiat salary into crypto with the help of XBTO Group, a crypto finance company. Kieran Gibbs is an ex-Arsenal player who plays in the Major League Soccer with David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
You start from the beginning – before we discovered gold – and you read through history, it just fascinated me. It’s a very powerful technology. Without getting too deep, look at how many people in the world don’t have access to a bank account. The fact that all you need is internet and a smart phone [for cryptocurrency]. Then, you’re instantly given access to probably two billion people, to services that obviously we’re so used to, but a fifth of the planet aren’t. If I was to get paid in dollars for the next three years, the way the economy is at the moment, I’m going to lose around 10 per cent of that a year [through inflation]. But my contract doesn’t increase. – says Kieran Gibbs.
Cade Cunningham of Rookie NBA didn’t directly get paid in crypto, but he has been one of the players advocating for Bitcoin payments. When he signed a sponsorship deal with BlockFi, he got an undisclosed bonus in Bitcoin. His Bitcoin performance since he signed the deal stands at 22.9%. His current net worth is about $4 million.
On November 1st, 2021, Aaron Rodgers disclosed that he would accept part of his salary in Bitcoin. The deal was negotiated by Square that owns Cash App. Since he signed the deal, his Bitcoin performance stands at 40.5%. His current net worth is about $120 million. Aaron Rodgers indicated that he would team up with Cash App and get part of his salary in Bitcoin.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants during the Best Business Show said that his future endorsements deals would be paid in Bitcoin. The Street stated that Barkley would receive $10 million worth of endorsement. His current net worth stands at $32 million.
Sean Culkin became the first professional athlete to receive his entire salary in Bitcoin. He received $950,000 salary that was equivalent to 17 Bitcoins. His net worth is estimated to be at $1 million. In a tweet, Sean Culkin indicated that he will be converting his entire 2021 NFL salary to Bitcoin.
I fully believe Bitcoin is the future of finance and I wanted to prove that I have real skin in the game — not just trying to make a quick buck. I will be converting my entire 2021 NFL salary to #Bitcoin.
— Sean Culkin (@culkin22) April 26, 2021
Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville Jaguar also received a crypto bonus after signing a deal with BlockFi. He signed the deal in April 2021 and since then, his bitcoin performance stands at 32.7%. His Bitcoin performance since he signed the deal stands at 32.7%. His net worth is estimated to be $1 million.
BlockFi is a firm that offers cryptocurrency exchange, crypto interest accounts and crypto backed loans.
Odell Beckham of Los Angeles Rams stated that he will be receiving his entire salary in Bitcoin after entering into a partnership with Cash App. He signed the deal in November 2021 and since then, his Bitcoin performance stands at 36%. His net worth is estimated to be at $40 million.
Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese baseball superstar, became FXT ambassador and his entire compensation will be paid in crypto. The deal was signed in November 2021 and since then, his Bitcoin performance stands at 39.7%. His net worth is $10 million. FXT is a crypto exchange and stock brokerage firm.
The Nigerian-born Ifunanyachi Achara plays for Toronto FC in the Major League Soccer. He receives half of his salary in Bitcoin. He uses the crypto payroll platform Bitwage. Achara sends some of his Bitcoin to Nigeria to help his family hedge against naira inflation. Bitcoin remittances are becoming one of the popular means of sending money to Nigeria because of high transfer fees associated with traditional money transfer services to Nigeria.
Challenges Facing Players Wanting to Get Paid in Crypto
NFL Quarterback Matt Barkley requested to be paid in Bitcoin but his request was unsuccessful. The main reason why his request was unsuccessful is because to get paid in Bitcoin, it would require his teams to carry Bitcoin in their balance sheets. And these teams don’t have Bitcoin in their ledgers, it would be difficult to accept Bitcoin or pay employees directly using Bitcoin. Also, him being among the first people to request to be paid in Bitcoin also led to his request being declined. It is always tough being the first to do something.
Summary of Athletes Getting Paid in Crypto
With the high number of athletes getting paid in crypto and many of them advocating for the adoption of crypto, many people are going to venture into crypto. Many athletes have taken to Twitter to tell their fans that they are adopting crypto as their method of payment. Since cryptocurrencies are, in most cases, not affected by economic and political turmoil in a country, it is a great way to store your wealth.