As cryptocurrency gained more popularity in recent years, several athletes got into the digital assets space by accepting some of their salary or endorsement income in crypto. And many of those crypto holdings are likely to be worth much less than when the athletes originally got involved.
Here’s a look at some high-profile athletes who at this point have likely lost out on a lot of money because they opted to get paid in crypto.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Super Bowl champion and ex-Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made headlines in November 2021 after announcing he would be converting his NFL salary into bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.03%. As you might have guessed, Beckham’s $750,000 salary is worth a lot less now.
The Action Network reported that the deal was executed when a bitcoin cost $64,158. As of Wednesday afternoon, bitcoin prices were hovering just above $16,000, a 75% decline from the time of Beckham’s deal.
Based on Wednesday’s bitcoin prices, and assuming that Beckham converted a lump sum of $750,000 into bitcoin when the deal was made, that salary would now be worth about $185,250, and, despite the drop in value, he would still have to pay taxes on income as provided to him at its $750,000 value.
Because it is not known if Beckham moved the $750,000 sum all at once into bitcoin or spread it over multiple purchases, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact dollar figure for Beckham’s losses. What can be reliably determined, though, is that as of now Beckham would have been better off accepting his salary in U.S. dollars.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback was given an equity stake in crypto exchange FTX back in 2021, in addition to receiving some crypto. Brady served as an ambassador for the company and also starred in several TV commercials for FTX.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time in the crypto-world and Sam and the revolutionary FTX team continue to open my eyes to the endless possibilities,” Brady said in 2021. “This particular opportunity showed us the importance of educating people about the power of crypto while simultaneously giving back to our communities and planet. We have the chance to create something really special here, and I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do together.”
It’s not clear how much FTX equity Brady received in 2021, or which cryptocurrencies he received. FTX filed for bankruptcy in November after suffering from severe liquidity issues.
Brady, along with Steph Curry and former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, was later named in an $11 billion lawsuit filed on behalf of Oklahoma resident Edwin Garrison in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida over the crypto exchange’s collapse.
The star New York Giants running back said in July 2021 that he would be accepting all future marketing and endorsement deals he signs in bitcoin.
During the interview when Barkley made the announcement, he acknowledged that his annual endorsement income is over $10 million — he has amassed an impressive endorsement portfolio with companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Nike NKE, -1.74%, Pepsi PEP, -0.37%, Toyota TM, +0.75%, Visa V, -0.19% and Hulu.
The price of bitcoin is down 46% since Barkley’s announcement, although it’s unclear how much, if any, of his endorsement money he actually bought bitcoin with.
Barkley, 25, said he uses crypto app Strike and aimed to build “generational wealth” off the field.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback and former No.1 overall pick in the NFL draft Trevor Lawrence signed an endorsement deal with crypto app Blockfolio back in April 2021. FTX is the parent company to Blockfolio, and later rebranded the Blockfolio app to the FTX app.
According to the Action Network, Lawrence accepted his signing bonus from this endorsement deal exclusively in crypto in a mix of bitcoin and Solana.
The price of Solana SOLUSD, -0.07% is down 71% since the deal was announced, and the price of bitcoin is down 65% over the same period.
Other athletes who say they have taken at least some form of compensation in crypto, crypto exchanges or NFT projects in recent are Lionel Messi, Mike Tyson, Aaron Rodgers, Cade Cunningham and Shohei Ohtani.