The enigmatic and colorful former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s latest trip to North Korea has been sponsored by digital currency website PotCoin, according to CNN. The website aims to be a platform for transactions between marijuana retailers and customers, given that banks have been weary of the industry.
PotCoin works like other online cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. PotCoin work peer-to-peer and isn’t routed through a traditional bank.
“I’m really looking forward to spending time with the wonderful people of North Korea and of course, visiting with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un. I want to thank the folks at PotCoin,” said Rodman in a statement Tuesday. “They realized the importance of this trip and made it all possible for me.”
The company also touts that Rodman is a good friend of both Kim, and President Donald Trump. Rodman appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice” twice while the show was hosted by Trump.
Rodman arrived in Beijing Tuesday, before departing for North Korea’s capital Pyongyang.
Rodman has visited North Korea at least four times. Rodman’s last visit in 2014 was to do what he called “basketball diplomacy.” Rodman brought a group of former NBA players for a friendly exhibition game against North Korea’s national team. Those players included Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, Vin Baker, Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles Smith, according to CNN in 2014. On the trip Rodman also sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim.
The trip proved controversial due Rodman not putting pressure on the regime to release American prisoners. Kim had also had his powerful uncle and one-time advisor, Jang Song Thaek, removed from power and executed in late 2013.
Rodman went with the Harlem Globetrotters and a Vice news team on his first visit. Rodman and the Globetrotters took on the national team in a game that ended in a 110-110 tie. Previous trips were sponsored by Irish online betting company Paddy Power, but the company gave up their sponsorship of Rodman’s trips after critics condemned them due to North Korea’s track record of human rights violation.
Basketball is a passion of Kim’s, possibly passed down from him father Kim Jong Il. The Washington Post reported in 2013 that Il had a special interest in all-star Michael Jordan in particular. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright brought Il a basketball signed by Jordan on a diplomatic trip in 2000.
Kim went to a boarding school growing up, disguised as the son of an embassy chauffeur. The Washington Post reported that as a child Kim would play basketball wearing Nike Air Jordans and spend hours doing meticulous drawings of Jordan.
Rodman, 56, was a teammate of Jordan on the Chicago Bulls. Rodman also played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. The five time NBA champion was inducted into the NBA hall of fame after a 14-year career.
In addition to an American professional basketball career, Rodman played on some international teams and was for a time a professional wrestler.