NFL

Panthers Lineman Russell Okung Just Proved That Cryptocurrency Does Pay — and in a Big Way

Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Russell Okung is a major fan of the cryptocurrency train. 

Okung is a veteran offensive lineman in his first year with the Carolina Panthers. As the 2020 season approaches its end, the former first-round pick is earning the final dollars of his $13 million salary.

The bad news for Okung is that he spent this season on a rebuilding Panthers team. However, the good news is that Okung just proved that bitcoin does indeed pay.

Russell Okung is in his first year with the Carolina Panthers

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The Seattle Seahawks used the sixth overall pick on Russell Okung in 2010, the same draft they took Texas safety Earl Thomas.

A two-time All-American at Oklahoma State, Okung spent his first six seasons with the Seahawks and earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2012 season. Okung won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks and served as quarterback Russell Wilson‘s first left tackle — when Okung was healthy, at least.

Denver signed Okung in 2016, and he’s since bounced around the league. Okung again made the Pro Bowl in 2017, his first year with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Okung has spent this season in Carolina, but only started seven of the Panthers’ first 16 games because of a lingering calf problem.

Russell Okung just got paid through cryptocurrency

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Russell Okung is no stranger to betting on himself financially.

Okung signed a one-year contract worth $5 million with the Denver Broncos in 2016. The contract included an option that would have added four years and $48 million to the deal.

Denver declined the option, and Okung signed a traditional four-year contract worth $53 million with the Chargers in 2017. According to Spotrac, Okung will make $13 million this season.

Of that $13 million, half is coming Okung’s way through Bitcoin. Okung is an outspoken supporter of cryptocurrency and is using the service to receive his 2020 salary.

According to coindesk.com, Okung is swapping the money that Carolina gave him for bitcoin, which is then sent to a cold storage wallet in Okung’s name.

Several professional athletes are on the cryptocurrency train

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Russell Okung isn’t the only professional athlete who has expressed interest in the future of cryptocurrency.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has openly praised the concept of cryptocurrency. Dinwiddie said earlier this year that he would let fans pick his next team — he is a free agent after the 2020-21 season — if they raised nearly $25 million in Bitcoin through GoFundMe.

Jack Mallers, the founder of a Bitcoin startup company called Zap, told coindesk.com that unnamed members of the New York Yankees also hope to follow in Okung’s footsteps.

Okung needed the NFL and NFL Players Association to help approve his desire to be paid through bitcoin. It is unclear as of Dec. 29, 2020, if the NBA and MLB have similar requirements for players wanting a payment structure like Okung’s.

All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.