Russell Okung to Receive Half of His $13 Million Contract in Bitcoin

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In Brief
  • Super Bowl winner and two-time NFL Pro Russell Okung will receive half of his contract salary in Bitcoin.

  • Using the Lightning Network, Okung's team will convert his salary directly into BTC.

  • Okung will receive $7.5 million in BTC, likely making him the first pro athlete to do so.

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Pro-Bowl champion Russell Okung has been a strong proponent of Bitcoin for years, and now he’ll receive half of his new contract in BTC.



Okung announced a new partnership with Strike, a network that utilizes the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The network will enable him to covert $7.5 million of his $13 million football contract into BTC.

Okung has been pushing for his current and former team to pay him in Bitcoin over the last couple of years. And with the latest rally to all-time highs, it seems he finally got his wish.



Okung’s team, the Carolina Panthers, can send a portion of his salary directly over the Lightning Network instead of via his traditional account, allowing for near-instant conversion to bitcoin.

This appears to mark a major milestone for bitcoin and the cryptocurrency asset class as this is the first time a professional player is getting paid directly for their labor.

Okung has been rather vocal about this idea. The decision is well represented by one of his previous quotes, “money is more than currency, it’s power.”

What is Strike?

Strike is a bank compliant API for the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The Lightning Network has been in development for several years. It allows for quicker and cheaper bitcoin transactions through the use of a ‘second layer’ blockchain protocol.

By using the Lightning Network to conduct transactions, smaller transfers (microtransactions) can be handled more efficiently.

Strike’s compliance and regulatory standards are a major part of this deal, as they enable Okung and the Carolina Panthers to legally conduct the payment according to league standards.

Jack Mallers, the founder and CEO of Strike, is extremely bullish on the news, explaining to a cryptocurrency twitter influencer:

“Got more athletes on the waitlist we’ll onboard now. NFL, NBA, MLB. Even some Billboard artists. Stacking sats is going mainstream, we’re about to blow this sh*t up, just getting started”.

Mallers’ words suggest this is just the beginning. There will likely be similar announcements made for professional athletes and celebrities in the coming months.

If additional mainstream icons start accepting Bitcoin for their labor, it would likely see a significant portion of their following rush to the cryptocurrency asset class.


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Harrison is an analyst, reporter, and lead specialist at BeInCrypto based out of Tel Aviv, Israel. Harrison has been involved in the cryptocurrency space since late 2016 and is passionate about decentralized ledger technology and its potential.

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