By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Former Chargers offensive lineman Russell Okung claims he is the first professional athlete in the U.S. to get paid his salary with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

FILE — Russell Okung of the Carolina Panthers waits between drills during a training camp session at Bank of America Stadium on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

Okung, who currently plays for the Carolina Panthers, had half of his current $13 million annual salary paid to him in Bitcoin, according to Strike, a mobile payments company which partnered with Okung in the process.

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It’s still unclear if the NFL actually paid Okung in Bitcoin, or whether he converted his salary to Bitcoin after receiving it in U.S. dollars.

The 32-year-old Okung has lobbied to be paid in Bitcoin for several years.

“Money is more than currency; it’s power,” said Okung in a statement through Strike Tuesday. “The way money is handled from creation to dissemination is part of that power. Getting paid in Bitcoin is the first step of opting out of the corrupt, manipulated economy we all inhabit. Bitcoiners are not only disrupting the status quo, we are reclaiming power that is rightly ours. PAY ME IN BITCOIN today becomes a reality thanks to Strike and the Panthers front office. This is the acknowledgement of a new way, a new path and a new future that recognizes diversity in finance and a reclamation of true financial control.”

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Okung played for the Chargers for three seasons beginning in 2017. He was traded to the Panthers last March.