‘My Bet Is on Bitcoin,’ Pro Soccer Player Says

Alex Crognale of the Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship league sees the digital asset as a way to store his wealth. This piece is part of CoinDesk's Sports Week.

AccessTimeIconJul 29, 2022 at 5:26 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 19, 2023 at 4:02 p.m. UTC
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Alex Crognale has no plans to sell his bitcoin (BTC). In fact, he thinks the digital currency could be a financial solution for people all over the world and has the potential to be one of the most “influential technological advancements of our time.”

Crognale’s initial venture into bitcoin was in 2020 during the pandemic. He fell down the rabbit hole, and since then, has increased his allocation.

This piece is part of CoinDesk's Sports Week.

Crognale, 27, said he receives 25% of his salary from the Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship league in bitcoin, up from the original 15%. Last week, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Luana Pinheiro joined the handful of pro athletes who receive a portion of their salary in the digital currency.

“I’ve continued to accumulate and buy at these prices, because I see this as a move for my future and somewhere where I can store my wealth and use it down the line,” Crognale said.

“Unless I’m selling bitcoin to buy cash flowing assets or businesses that I believe will outperform bitcoin, I don’t have any plans to sell my coins,” he said.

Crognale uses payroll platform BitWage to receive his bitcoin payments. The cryptocurrency makes up about 80% his portfolio, he says. Some of his alternative investments were held in a Celsius Network account, which he said is likely to go to zero as the crypto broker goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“I have learned not to get caught up in the deception and greed that comes from people and projects who lack good intentions,” he said.

Yet, he is still optimistic about the sector. He says the trend of being paid in bitcoin could become more popular among professional athletes, which says would be a “huge step” for the industry.

“As professional athletes, we can only play for a finite number of years, similar to bitcoin's finite supply,” Crognale said. “To maximize our future earning potential, we need to do as much as we can to secure our money we’re making today for our future.”

Crognale, who is also a co-founder of social impact startup Parichute, said the digital currency “continues to prove the long-term value” it has, pointing to real-world use cases, such as when cryptocurrencies were used by Canadian truckers in their anti-vaccine mandate protests in February and when crypto was donated to help those suffering in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For me, it was eye-opening,” he said. “My conviction got higher, even though the price was going lower.”

Crognale said he plans to host bitcoin mining machines for those looking to invest in bitcoin passively. Mining is also a way for him to contribute to the “bitcoin network as a whole,” he said.

“I thought it was another great way for me to gain exposure to the asset in a different way than simply buying it,” Crognale said. “My bet is on bitcoin.”


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Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.