Eric Adams said he plans to “take my first three paychecks” in bitcoin once he starts his new job as New York City’s mayor in January, upstaging his counterpart in Miami and even some CEOs who run cryptocurrency companies.
Two days after winning the mayoral race, the Brooklyn Democrat used Twitter to announce how he will be paid initially as a public servant. Adams tweeted his three-paycheck crypto gambit after reading a tweet from Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who said he plans to accept one paycheck in bitcoin.
“NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries,” Adams tweeted.
Whether it’s one paycheck or three, what Adams and Suarez are personally betting on a highly volatile cryptocurrency is more than many business leaders in the crypto space are doing.
Jason Les, CEO of bitcoin mining company Riot Blockchain, accepts part of his $240,000 salary in 10 bitcoin, marking him one of few crypto executives who eat their own company’s cooking by getting paid in digital currencies rather than old-fashioned greenbacks.
Coinbase is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded crypto platforms, yet its latest executive pay documents do not show CEO Brian Armstrong accepting any of his $60 million in total 2020 compensation in crypto. Coinbase gives Armstrong and other company executives an option of accepting some salary in crypto assets, but there’s no documentation that he opted in. Coinbase did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Likewise, Fred Thiel, CEO of bitcoin mining company Marathon Digital, does not accept his $500,000 executive compensation in any cryptocurrency, nor does the company’s chairman and former CEO, Merrick Okamoto, who made $368,715 last year. A company spokesman confirmed those details with CBS MoneyWatch on Thursday.
The New York and Miami mayors technically will have to take their paycheck in dollars and then buy bitcoin at the day’s market rate, using digital platforms like the Cash app or Coinbase. Adams could even just walk a few steps from City Hall and use a bitcoin ATM on 12 John Street.
The two mayors join a small group of well-known Americans who devote a portion of their pay to crypto. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Monday he believes in bitcoin and will take some of his NFL pay in bitcoin.
“Bitcoin is a new concept and it can be intimidating,” Rodgers said via Twitter, speaking as a pitchman for the Cash app. Rodgers also said he plans to give away $1 million worth of bitcoin to his fans via the Cash app.
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have been at the center of many of this year’s wildest financial gains and losses. Although considered a highly unstable form of money by most financial experts, bitcoin reached new highs earlier this year, in part because more companies are accepting it as a form of payment.
Bitcoin has been trading at around $60,000 this week. At that price, Adams, who will earn around $260,000 annually as mayor, would need to turn his first six paychecks into crypto to buy just one bitcoin, assuming a fortnightly pay schedule.
Cryptocurrencies ethereum and dogecoin also hit record-high prices earlier this year, while celebrities including Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Kanye West and others have thrown their names behind digital currencies of their liking.
As its popularity rises, cryptocurrency has been the target of many multi-million dollar scams in recent history. Between January and July, crypto accounted for $681 million in scam losses, according to a report from cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace.
Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.
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