Which major sports stars get paid in crypto?

An increasing number of professional athletes now accept their pay cheques in cryptocurrency.

Some of the most well-known sports stars would rather their salary be in the form of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether. This includes the likes of Lionel Messi and Aaron Rodgers.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, given the multiple uses that cryptocurrency now has in the world of sport.

Bitcoin betting, for example, has become a popular form of gambling thanks to its fast payouts, low fees and global accessibility, according to Kane Pepi. These sites can be used for a range of different sports, offering the same variety of games and markets as fiat sportsbooks.

Cryptocurrency has also been used to pay for sponsorship, match tickets and digital collectibles - it’s not just the athletes who have embraced crypto.


Lionel Messi  

Lionel Messi was an early ambassador of crypto payments in the world of sports. When the World Cup winner moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, part of his deal included what was described at the time as a “significant” amount of PSG Fan Tokens ($PSG), although the figure was never made public.

$PSG is the official Paris Saint-Germain fan token, a digital asset that is said to never expire. According to Yahoo Finance, the token increased in value by 25% in April of 2024.

While this technically isn’t a type of cryptocurrency, it is still based on the blockchain. It is also treated similarly to that of crypto in the way that it can gain value through speculation. 

Messi is considered a big advocate of the blockchain, having signed a $20 million deal in 2022 with Socios, a fan token company. He is currently on a three-year contract as their ambassador.   


Aaron Rodgers

The New York Jets quarterback announced in 2021, when he was playing for the Green Bay Packers, that he had accepted an undisclosed amount of his salary that year in Bitcoin.

Given that his annual contract is worth $134 million, it’s safe to assume that the Bitcoin portion was significant. It is unclear whether he has since accepted any blockchain-based salary.

However, he did partner with CashApp around the same time. He even Tweeted about how much he believed in Bitcoin - although this was right before the crypto dropped in 2022, so he may no longer hold this sentiment.

CashApp, which is a mobile payment service, reportedly gave away $1 million in Bitcoin to some of Rodgers’ fans, as part of the partnership.


Landon Cassill 

Landon Cassill made headlines in 2021 when it was announced he would be the first-ever NASCAR pro race driver to be paid entirely in crypto. This was part of a 19-race sponsorship deal with the cryptocurrency brokerage platform, Voyager.

This resulted in Cassill being paid in a combination of Bitcoin and Litecoin throughout the 2022 racing season. Fans of Cassill weren’t surprised by this move, given that the driver had long been a vocal advocate of the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency.

Odell Beckham Jr.  

In 2022, Odell Beckham Jr. announced that he received his 2022 LA Rams salary entirely in Bitcoin. The Miami Dolphins wide receiver struck a deal with CashApp and gave away $1 million in crypto to fans - just like Aaron Rodgers.

Unfortunately for Beckham Jr, the value of his salary was greatly diminished due to the crypto crash of 2022.

But with moves to the Baltimore Ravens in 2023 and the Dolphins in 2024, he is unlikely to be struggling to pay his gas bill. 


Trevor Lawrence  

In 2021, Jacksonville Jaguars quaterback Trevor Lawrence announced that he had partnered with Blockfolio, a crypto portfolio tracking app.

While the amount Lawrence received from the app remained undisclosed, it was said to be a multi-year sponsorship.

It was also reported that the bonus Lawrence received for signing the deal was paid entirely in cryptocurrency.

This move was made by Blockfolio with the goal of targeting a younger audience. They’re up against major platforms such as Coinbase, so need as much promotion and exposure as possible.  


Ifunanyachi Achara 

He may not be a household name, but current Houston Dynamo 2 forward Ifunanyachi Achara became the first football player ever to receive his full salary of $84,000 in crypto, when he was playing for Toronto FC.

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