Kansas City's Sean Culkin Becomes First NFL Player to Get Full Salary in Bitcoin

Sean Culkin grew up in southwest Florida in an area where pirates historically looked for gold and treasures to make themselves more prosperous. Culkin was raised just south of Tampa, where he caught footballs while watching his father, ironically, invest in gold.

Sean, who's now an NFL tight end, hopes to parlay his pass-catching talent into new-world gold. That new gold is digital cryptocurrency.

Culkin, who's entering his fifth NFL season and a recent signee with the Kansas City Chiefs, has a bettor's chance at winning a Super Bowl ring in the 2021 season. Though Culkin hopes that happens, he's betting a chunk of his future with 100 percent of his 2021 salary.

Culkin will become the first NFL player to have his entire salary in Bitcoin, calling it the gold standard of this generation. He will be paid a base salary of $920,000, paid to him by the Chiefs in biweekly installments. The currency will then immediately convert into Bitcoin through an app called Zap.

He said investing in something likeBitcoin was better for his future than gold, real estate or other ventures while problems prevail around the world, particularly with the COVID-19 global pandemic still lurking.

"I realized thatBitcoin was the solution to many of the problems in the world. And with high conviction, I wanted to be paid in it," Culkin told Newsweek. "I wanted to help inspire others. I thinkBitcoin has always beat these bad stereotypes from its inception."

Those stereotypes, he says, include "money laundering" and "black market" and "bad for the environment." He says that it's more of a long-term play than a quick first down.

"I want to at least make a something that is going to benefit me because I believe that it's going to appreciate over time," Culkin said. "This is a long-term play."

"I'm not suggesting that everyone allocate 100% of their salaries to Bitcoin. This is a decision I made after seriously considering my current wealth and expected expenses in the near term. I believe this cryptocurrency provides the best asymmetric return available, going forward."

He's not a rookie making his way into the professional league. Culkin spent the last four years playing for the Los Angeles Chargers and then the Baltimore Ravens. And he's not a rookie when it comes to long-term planning.

"I haven't been paid millions of dollars, and I haven't had these huge guaranteed contracts," Culkin said. "I've had the league minimum. I've always had to prove myself day in and day out. And I just thought, I think Bitcoin will rise, obviously, that's why I'm making this decision.

"Considering my career—particularly its physical demands, and brevity—it makes the most logical sense to be paid in sound money that I believe protects its purchasing power over time," Culkin said. "From a macro standpoint, I believe we are in the beginning stage of Bitcoin's shift away from being extremely speculative, to a legitimate asset class viewed as a store of value."

Culkin isn't necessarily a college student struggling from one semester to another, or an every-day person living from one paycheck to the next. He's had the luxury of making the NFL's league minimum the last four years. Then again, he hasn't squandered money like many players who go broke within two years of quitting football.

"I think 75 percent of all NFL players go broke within two years because expenses continue to rise or stay the same while cash flows and income decrease. Money will not last forever, right? So I take pride in the fact that I've been very smart with my money and invested early," he said.

Culkin has put his money into Bitcoin, which he calls the new gold standard, but with digital technology. Bitcoin can rise or fall in value (like gold, silver, oil, stocks and bonds), yet it's transverse across borders like gold used to be.

Sean Culkin
Sean Culkin, who previously played for the Los Angeles Chargers, will have his entire NFL salary converted into bitcoin in 2021. Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

What is Bitcoin?
In short terms,Bitcoin is like a modern-day gold for investors, but in digital form. It's cashable across borders, like the old, gold standard. It can rise and fall in value, like gold, oil, cotton, real estate or any other investment.

Bitcoin can be sold or bought, like other investments.

Bitcoin's volatility?
When Newsweek asked Culkin about the recent volatility ofBitcoin, Culkin didn't defer to his finance degree from the University of Missouri or his current studies for his MBA at Indiana University. He thought back to his old man.

"A lot of that was due to my dad," Culkin said. "He was not a professional investor, but he was a big gold advocate. And so at a young age, I always was introduced to his philosophy and why he preferred gold compared to other traditional assets. There's a lot of overlap between gold and Bitcoin, and what will happen going forward, like, that's one of the bigger places that Bitcoin will replace gold, and it's essentially digital gold with technical, technological components."