For NFL fans, 2021 was a great year. Stadiums returned to capacity crowds after the 2020 season was shortened with limited attendance. Stadium parking lots were again filled with the enthusiastic anticipation of tailgaters and their barbequed camaraderie.
It was also a great year for Bitcoin (BTC) investors as the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization reached all-time high prices multiple times throughout 2021, eventually topping out at $69,000 in early November. This led to a dramatic increase in media coverage of Bitcoin.
Seven NFL players in 2021 decided to call the audible and begin either being paid in crypto or having their cash salary partially converted to crypto. These players have capitalized on the return of the regular season and the increased profitability of Bitcoin.
The reigning 2020 NFL MVP announced via a Nov. 1 video post on Twitter that he was partnering with Cash App payment service to accept a portion of his salary in Bitcoin. Rodgers will earn roughly $22.3 million this year.
The video depicted Rodgers dressed as John Wick for a Halloween party. If that wasn’t strange enough, likely by design, Rodgers also told viewers that he would donate $1 million in BTC.
In Rodgers’ case, he will have a portion of his salary sent to his Cash App account, which he will then use to buy BTC.
The Twitter profile for the star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers features a picture of himself on the field during a game with the iconic laser eyes, further signaling his support for BTC.
Tom Brady is another very high-profile NFL star quarterback who dabbled heavily in cryptocurrency in 2021. Brady has not yet said that he is being paid in BTC by the NFL, but he will be paid in crypto by FTX exchange after he took an equity stake in Sam Bankman-Fried’s exchange, and will serve as a brand ambassador.
Brady has not reserved himself to crypto assets alone, however. The iconic football star launched his own NFT platform, called Autograph, in April to attract the top talent in sports, entertainment, fashion and pop culture.
It doesn’t end there for Brady and crypto, though. Late in October, Brady threw the 600th passing touchdown of his career, marking an all-time high for the NFL, and helping to secure Brady’s position as the all-time leading touchdown passer in the league’s history. Brady paid 1 BTC to the fan who was initially given the ball by the receiver who completed the touchdown.
That BTC was worth about $62,000 at the time of the game, but the ball itself may be worth over $500,000 according to Goldin Auctions sports memorabilia auction company.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) followed in Aaron Rodgers’ footsteps by announcing late in November that he had partnered with Cash App to receive his salary from the NFL in BTC. His contract stipulates that he should receive about $4.25 million from the NFL this season.
The Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiver told fans that he would give back $1 million in BTC as part of his new partnership with Cash App. Beckham appears to be no stranger to the crypto and NFT scene as his Twitter profile dons a Crypto Punk NFT.
In case you haven’t noticed, Jack Dorsey’s Cash App is involved with both OBJ’s and Aaron Rodgers’ BTC salary deal. The payment service app has had a great 2021 through the first three quarters of the year by raking in nearly $10 billion in revenue from 36 million active users and 100 million downloads.
The Carolina Panthers’ new star quarterback joined the ranks of NFL superstars who are publicly accepting crypto payments. Lawrence’s deal, however, is not with the NFL directly. The 2021 NFL top draft pick’s crypto salary comes from an endorsement deal with the crypto portfolio app FTX (formerly Blockfolio).
The value of his deal has not been made public, but if Lawrence has been hodling his crypto earnings, there is a good chance he has enjoyed an appreciation in value, especially from the Solana (SOL) coins. The total crypto market cap has increased by about $500 billion since late April when the deal was announced.
Saquon Barkley, the superstar running back from the New York Giants, revealed in July that he was converting all of his endorsement pay into BTC. As with most others on this list, Barkley is not being paid directly with crypto. Instead, he is swapping some of his cash earnings for crypto.
Barkley is using the Strike payment app to acquire his BTC. He is not the first NFL player to use Strike to buy BTC with his salary, however. Last year, former NFL offensive lineman Russel Okung became the first player to publicly share that he was using Strike to convert his NFL salary to BTC.
Barkley’s reasoning for trying to amass wealth with BTC revolved around the lack of longevity among NFL athletes. He told The Best Business Show host Anthony Pompliano on July 15:
“When you see the KD’s, the Lebrons and Bradys of the world and you want to create generational wealth, you can’t do that with the sport that I play and the position that I play and coming off of injuries. When you sit out of football for a whole year, you realize that this game could be taken away from you.”
Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Sean Culkin went public with his plans to convert his entire salary from the NFL into BTC. While others on this list committed to converting only a portion of their salary into Bitcoin or being paid for endorsements with cryptos, Culkin is swapping 100% of his salary.
I fully believe Bitcoin is the future of finance and I wanted to prove that I have real skin in the game — not just trying to make a quick buck. I will be converting my entire 2021 NFL salary to #Bitcoin.
Like with Saquon Barkley, Culkin’s reasoning for turning to crypto has to do with the short half-life common among players in the league. The average time most athletes spend in the NFL is 3.3 years, according to Statista. Culkin said in a statement:
“Considering my career—particularly its physical demands, and brevity–it makes the most sense to be paid in sound money that I believe protects its purchasing power over time.”
Last but certainly not least on the list of NFL stars earning crypto is the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones. The running back signed a deal with FTX to become an ambassador for the exchange in September. Like with Tom Brady’s deal, Jones purchased an equity stake in the exchange.
Jones will also integrate the FTX Pay platform into his own charity’s website to enable it to accept crypto donations.
Bitcoin continues to underperform as a general “risk-off” sentiment has investors driving toward gold as a safe haven asset.
Not Risking It
Concerns about the Russo-Ukrainian war continue. The U.S. inflation struggles at a four-decade high and Fed rate hike fears prevail. The uncertainty extends to the world economy as a recession is expected instead of a recovery. The IMF’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva called it “a crisis on top of a crisis.”
“The war is a supply shock that reduces economic output and raises prices. Indeed, we forecast inflation will accelerate to 5.5 percent in advanced economies and to 9.3 percent in emerging European economies excluding Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. ” The IMF stated last week.
Reuters recently quoted Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann, who talked in a note about the factors that have “lent buoyancy to gold in recent days,” mentioning the “strong buying interest on the part of ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) investors” and news about the Ukraine war.
“Russia appears to be preparing to launch a major offensive in the east of the country – that is generating considerable demand for gold as a safe haven,” the analyst said.
This summarizes the “risk-off” sentiment at the moment. As expected, equities suffer as investors are selling risky assets and purchasing the ones negatively correlated to the traditional market. Thus, the crypto space is struggling alongside de stocks market and gold is rising.
Bitcoin Outperformed By Gold
Data from Arcane Research’s latest weekly report notes that it has been a gloomy year for the “digital gold.” In the first three weeks of 2022, Bitcoin sank 25% and it is still down by 18% in the year despite its slight recovery.
Similarly, Nasdaq records a 19% decline in the year, having underperformed against bitcoin “by a small margin,” notes the report, adding that “This is surprising given that bitcoin has tended to follow Nasdaq, albeit with higher volatility.”
The general fear over geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty has given gold the safe-haven asset spotlight once more. The asset outperformed all the other indexes seen below with a 4% gain.
Meanwhile, the currency market is performing with “the same risk-off patterns.” The Dollar has been proving its “risk-off” dominance as the US Dollar Index (DXY) is up 7%. The Chinese yuan has taken a hit over concerns about the country’s “zero-covid” policy –which creates issues for the global supply chain– and the slowing down Chinese economy. In contrast, investors have been running to the US Dollar for safety.
Bitcoin supporters usually refer to the coin as “digital gold” alleging it is a safe haven asset, and this narrative had held well while BTC had been “uncorrelated with most other major asset classes,” but the tide is shifting with the 2022 scenario as investors are rather placing the coin “into the risk-on basket”.
A previous Arcane Research report indicated that bitcoin’s 30 -day correlation with the Nasdaq is revisiting July 2020 highs while its correlation with gold has reached all-time lows.
A pseudonym traded noted that “As Bitcoin adoption goes on and more institutional investors enter the market, the correlation of BTC and stocks becomes more and more tight. That is a paradigm that the crypto world struggled to come to terms with in the past but is now more real than ever. A healthy stock market is good for Bitcoin.”
Meanwhile, the general sentiment of traders seems to be bearish, with many saying that the coin could visit the $30k level soon.
The crypto community headed to Nassau in the Bahamas this week for the inaugural Crypto Bahamas conference.
Like most conferences, panels fill up the agenda and on Wednesday the topics at Crypto Bahamas ranged from NFTs to crypto in sports and to asset allocation in Web3. During one particular conversation, titled Evolution of NFTs: Culture, Utility and Regulation, panelists had some insightful musings on the NFT market.
To put the Crypto Bahamas conference into context, Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in Sept. 2021. It recently inked a multi-year partnership with Anthony Scaramucci’s investment firm SkyBridge Capital, and its events arm SkyBridge Alternatives, or SALT. They jointly presented the conference.
That’s why the NFT panel consisted of multiple perspectives from Tristan Yver, head of strategy at FTX U.S., Joseph Doll, attorney at Fenwick law firm, Roham Gharegozlou, the chief executive officer at Dapper Labs, and Sarah Hammer, the managing director of The Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance at The Wharton School. Zack Guzman, writer for the Meta-owned newsletter platform Bulletin, moderated.
Gharegozlou pointed out how new the NFT market truly is when “most people have only been thinking about it for a year and a half,” making valuations “very immature.” As the CEO of Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot, Gharegozlou recognized that “utility, rewards and the how you value and NFT is primarily based on the strength of that of the community.”
He added that a good way for an NFT collection to build a strong community is to have multiple tiers of scarcity. In the case of NBA Top Shot, at the higher price end there is extreme scarcity, but there are also millions of “common” moments so that people can “get their first NFT and see how it feels without breaking the bank.”
Tristan Yver echoed that the current valuation and pricing model for NFTs is based on a collective perception on value based on the amount of people willing to buy an asset for a certain amount. He anticipated a “movement away from this consensus view to a more unique singular view where people buy things that resonate with them rather than what resonates with a larger community.”
Joseph Doll chimed in to say that “communities need to be thoughtful about democratizing access.” There are some “massive” barriers to entry to certain projects, he said, including not being early enough or not having enough capital at the time. He questioned, “That’s not what crypto is about, right? It’s kind of about the exact opposite of that.” Democratization, he suggested, can come in the form of derivative projects at better price points.
Another important point brought up by Yver was the reality of scams, especially on Discord and Twitter. He said that “weneed to move past security aspects to be able to really bring in the next large mass of users.” He recommended talking among family and friends or asking a Discord moderator to make sure “you click the right link when minting that NFT” because “wallet security sucks right now.”
Gharegozloueven said thatElon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, should use Web3 to fix Twitter’s fraud problem, just as Discord should use Web3 authentication and verification as well. “Once NFT’s are the sort of identity bridge across all these different social networks, identity and assets, authenticity, provenance,” then the system can be more resilient he added.
When asked what “main alpha” the audience should bear in mind, Doll said to engage with and be part of these NFT communities even if it’s “scary,” because getting scammed is a “part of the journey.”
Sarah Hammer, who leads the Cypher Accelerator at Wharton business school, said that the school is launching an incubator specifically for NFT projects in partnership with Dapper Labs because the “NFT model is a business model for the future.” She emphasized that the greatest way to grow and innovate in the space is to increase education efforts in order to get more people learning and working together.
22 days ago, Bitcoin.com News wrote about a Coin Insider trends study that combed through Google Trends data in the United States. According to the report, dogecoin was the most Googled cryptocurrency in the country. Another study — published by askgamblers.com — has covered similar data, but concentrated on the U.K.’s and Europe’s Google searches. According to the report, while bitcoin is the most popular crypto asset in Europe, the study of the trends shows that the meme token shiba inu is the most popular in the United Kingdom.
Trends Study Highlights the Most Popular Crypto Assets in Europe, UK — Bitcoin Reigns in Europe, While Shiba Inu Takes the UK
This week Bitcoin.com News was sent a report from askgamblers.com that analyzes Google Trends (GT) data over the last year in order to find out what the most popular crypto assets are in the U.K. and Europe. According to the findings, bitcoin (BTC) is the most popular digital currency in Europe as it was the most searched crypto in 21 countries. BTC outpaced the competitors in the askgamblers.com study, as the leading crypto asset rules the roost in countries like Germany, Finland, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Belgium.
While bitcoin (BTC) was the top crypto across Europe, shiba Inu (SHIB) is the most popular cryptocurrency in the U.K., according to the researcher’s collected Google searches. The meme token SHIB saw a significant increase in popularity during the last 12 months. The study’s findings show SHIB commands six different countries and the United Kingdom. In fact, SHIB is huge in Russia, France, Spain, Ukraine, Italy, Hungary, and Switzerland, in terms of GT searches.
Additionally, ethereum (ETH) was the third most popular in the study capturing interest from Sweden, Czechia, Latvia, and Slovenia. Then cardano (ADA) held the fourth position in terms of GT search data, as Andorra, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria showed a lot of interest in ADA. With dogecoin (DOGE) being the most popular in the U.S., it is the fifth in Europe as the meme crypto is popular in Albania and Greece.
“With 38 million crypto users in Europe, and thousands of cryptocurrencies on the market to choose from, it is fascinating to see which one people are the most interested in investing in,” a spokesperson from askgamblers.com told Bitcoin.com’s newsdesk. “Although bitcoin is the most popular overall, the interest in shiba inu has grown to surpass bitcoin in major countries such as Russia and the U.K.”
In the U.S. research study published by Coin Insider, shiba inu (SHIB) only captured seven states across the country. Dogecoin was named the leader in that study as DOGE was the most popular in 23 states in the U.S., in terms of GT searches. SHIB’s popularity in the U.S., according to the data in that specific report, was ranked the fourth most popular crypto in the country.
What do you think about the popularity of bitcoin in Europe and the shiba inu interest in the U.K.? Let us know what you think about this research study in the comments section below.
Jamie Redman is the News Lead at Bitcoin.com News and a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open-source code, and decentralized applications. Since September 2015, Redman has written more than 5,000 articles for Bitcoin.com News about the disruptive protocols emerging today.
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