In brief

  • Kansas City Chiefs player Sean Culkin will convert his entire base NFL salary to Bitcoin via mobile payments app Strike.
  • Panthers player Russell Okung converted half of his 2020 salary, or approx. $6.5M, to BTC in December. Bitcoin’s price has doubled since then.

National Football League player Sean Culkin, tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, announced today that he will convert his entire 2021 base salary into Bitcoin. Culkin is the first player to publicly commit to transfer his entire NFL salary into cryptocurrency.

The Chiefs will not pay Culkin directly in cryptocurrency. Instead, they will pay him weekly in US dollars, and that amount will then be converted to Bitcoin using the mobile payments app Strike. Culkin’s base salary for the year is $920,000. Today’s announcement was issued in a press release by Strike, suggesting a partnership between the firm and Culkin.


“Considering my career—particularly its physical demands, and brevity—it makes the most logical sense to be paid in sound money that I believe protects its purchasing power over time,” said Culkin, in a release. “From a macro standpoint, I believe we are in the beginning stage of Bitcoin’s shift away from being extremely speculative to a legitimate asset class viewed as a store of value.”

“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,” Culkin tweeted this morning.

The five-year NFL veteran, previously of the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens, may be the first to commit his entire salary to Bitcoin holdings, but isn’t the first to convert at least part of his salary to the leading cryptocurrency.

Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung announced in December that he would convert half of his $13 million base salary for 2020—reportedly $6.5 million—into Bitcoin using the same Strike app. That would’ve been about 240 BTC at the then-price of $27,000. Bitcoin’s price currently sits at nearly double that amount, and peaked above $64,800 earlier this month, meaning Okung has already seen a significant return on his BTC investment.

Many NFL players, including active players Rob Gronkowski and Patrick Mahomes, as well as retired quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, have also entered the wider blockchain space of late via the release of crypto artwork as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs represent a deed of ownership to any digital item, such as still images or video clips, and can be authenticated via blockchain technology.


Culkin isn’t the only NFL player—or soon-to-be NFL player—to make crypto waves on Monday. Top prospect Trevor Lawrence, who is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in this week’s NFL Draft, announced a partnership with crypto portfolio tracking app Blockfolio, and will receive a bonus paid out entirely in cryptocurrency. Lawrence opted to start his portfolio with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. Blockfolio parent company FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange, will also make a joint donation with Lawrence of $100,000 to a charity to be announced after the draft.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.