Russell Okung is no bitcoin tenderfoot. The Los Angeles Chargers left tackle hosted his own Bitcoin event in September 2019 after he made a public splash onto the scene with his “Pay me in Bitcoin” tweet during the off-season. Now, for his December 8, 2019, matchup against the Jaguars, bitcoin will be with him every step of the way — literally.
The two-time Pro Bowler and bitcoin hodler recently tweeted a cleat design that reps the open-source BTCPay Server, a decentralized payment portal that was built as an alternative to BitPay. Fashioned in the project’s neon green color scheme, the cleats’ ankle strap reads “BTCPAY,” and BTCPay Server’s iconic “B” logo is prominently emblazoned over the Nike swoosh on the outward quarter of both shoes.
Making BTCPay Server His Cause
Okung chose to feature the open-source project as part of the “My Cause My Cleats” initiative, an NFL campaign that allows players around the league to create custom cleats that highlight causes close to their hearts.
For Okung, this meant representing bitcoin by advertising one of the space’s most beloved — and ideologically pure — open-source projects.
“Seeing how easy it was to spin up a lightweight, permissionless payment gateway for our Fall event was huge. It opened my eyes to how valuable and unique this resource is and how much more powerful it makes bitcoin,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.
The blindside tackle became acquainted with BTCPay when his events team set up its own instance for Okung’s September 2019 BitcoinIs_ event. He also solicited suggestions for his cleat design on Twitter, and BTCPay was one of the top suggestions.
BTCPay Server started over two years ago as a response to BitPay’s support for SegWit2x. Its progenitor, Nicolas Dorier, famously presaged the project in the comments to a BitPay tweet regarding SegWit. Dorier’s comment, “This is lies. My trust in you is broken. I will make you obsolete,” ratioed BitPay’s original tweet, and BTCPay was born.
Garnering Support for BTCPay and Bitcoin
“Everybody is beyond thrilled! Recognition and support like that is a huge motivation for us to keep working on BTCPay Server. It’s probably the first time that a free and open-source software (FOSS) has received ‘advertisement’ of that magnitude free of charge, in true FOSS spirit,” one of BTCPay’s contributors, Pavlenex, told Bitcoin Magazine.
As exemplified by Okung’s design choice, the open-source project has picked up steam in 2019. It recently received $100,000 in funding from payment company Square, and it has been used in a couple of popular fundraisers this year — for the Tor Foundation and to raise funds for everyone’s favorite space cat in his legal fight with Craig Wright.
In sporting the project on the field this Sunday, Okung’s excited to physically display Bitcoin to the NFL’s 24 million fans. This, he believes, will not only pique people’s interest in Bitcoin, but show his commitment to becoming the first NFL player to receive his salary in the cryptocurrency.
“Before an NFL team takes my request seriously, they will need to see how serious I am about bitcoin. My hope is that exposing more people to everyday bitcoin tools will help their curiosity grow,” he said.
Colin is an associate editor and staff writer for Bitcoin Magazine. He's proud to call Nashville his home, where he spends his days shouting at peddle taverns and trying to find affordable parking downtown. If it wasn't already obvious, he holds bitcoin.