As cryptocurrency prices have plummeted in recent weeks, there’s been increased scrutiny on the many professional athletes who have bragged about getting paid in cryptocurrency, and how much money those athletes have lost. Most notably, a viral story has claimed that Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost $15 million after taking his entire $24 million signing bonus last year in cryptocurrency that’s now worth just $9 million.
One problem with that story: It isn’t true.
Lawrence made that clear on Twitter today, explaining that when he said last year he got a signing bonus in cryptocurrency, he was referring to the signing bonus he got for an endorsement deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX. He was not referring to his $24 million signing bonus as the first overall pick in last year’s NFL draft.
“Did y’all confuse my @FTX_Official signing bonus with my @NFL one?” Lawrence wrote.
It should have been obvious from the get-go that the story was bogus. For starters, NFL players can’t actually get paid in cryptocurrency. They get paid in U.S. dollars. What they choose to do with those dollars is their own business, and some players may invest heavily in cryptocurrency, just like other players invest in stocks or real estate.
And income tax is withheld from players’ paychecks, so Lawrence never had $24 million to lose in the first place. After taxes, Lawrence’s signing bonus was about $15 million, so if he had put his entire signing bonus into Bitcoin, he wouldn’t be out $15 million unless the price of Bitcoin hit zero. And while Bitcoin is down more than 60 percent from its all-time high in November, it’s still nowhere near zero.
But, again, Lawrence did not put his entire signing bonus into Bitcoin. Lawrence is making money off cryptocurrency through his endorsement deal with a cryptocurrency exchange, and if he puts that money into cryptocurrency, then he’s lost a lot of money since his endorsement deal started. But he hasn’t lost $15 million.