Kansas City Chiefs player Sean Culkin will take the entirety of his 2021 base salary – $920,000 – in bitcoin.
The fifth-year tight end is the first National Football League player to be paid entirely in bitcoin. Offensive tackle Russell Okung, who famously followed through on his declaration to “pay me in bitcoin,” still takes half of his $13 million salary in fiat.
Culkin will start stacking biweekly sats via Zap’s Strike, the same fiat-to-bitcoin salary conversion service Okung uses. The Chiefs are aware of Culkin’s arrangement but his reserve contract is still denominated in dollars, he said.
“This is generational for me,” Culkin told CoinDesk.
Taking 100% of one’s income in BTC might not be a wise financial decision for everyone, Culkin admitted. But he said his financial expenses, risk parameters and long-term conviction in bitcoin made it the right move for him.
Culkin said he became aware of bitcoin in summer 2016 but it wasn’t until March 2020 that he began seriously considering it as an investment. One year later, Culkin is slated to swap his fiat income flow for bitcoin alone.
He said he’s unfazed by the very real possibility of market dips. Strike will automatically convert his cash paychecks to bitcoin no matter the price.
“I don’t want to have to feel pressured to be like, ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna buy this week,’” Culkin said. The system will allow him to remain “detached” from market movements so he can focus on football.
“Professional athletes today operate as independent businesses and are more sophisticated investors than they’ve ever been before,” Zap CEO Jack Mallers said in a statement. “We’re excited to help facilitate the growing intersection between sports and finance by converting his entire NFL salary to Bitcoin.”
Culkin wasn’t the first footballer to make crypto news on Monday. Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick in this week’s NFL draft, signed an endorsement deal with the FTX-owned investing app Blockfolio and was paid in an undisclosed cryptocurrency, the New York Times reported.
“For me, it makes sense to get paid in the hardest form of currency, and it’s something that is resistant to inflationary pressures that I think is very relevant in this current economic environment,” Culkin added.