What About This Pay Gap? CEOs vs. Celebrities
According to this AP story, CEOs of 386 companies in the S&P500 that filed proxy information in the first half of this year received a combined $4.16 billion in 2006, which is an average compensation of $10.77 million per CEO (see graph above).
Yahoo Inc.'s Terry Semel led the pack with total compensation last year of $71.7 million, according to the AP formula used to analyze those filings, which adds up salaries, bonuses, perks, above-market interest on pay that is set aside for later and what companies estimated the present value to be of restricted stock and options awards on the day they were granted last year.
According to the Forbes Celebrity list, the top 100 celebrities earned a combined total of $3.286 billion, or an average of $32.86 million per celebrity from June 2006 to June 2007, which according to Forbes "includes dollars earned solely from entertainment income."
Oprah topped the celebrity list with a whopping $260 million in earnings, or more than 3.5 times the highest CEO, followed by Tiger Woods with $100 million in pay.
Do a Google search for "excessive CEO pay" and you'll get about 10,000 hits. Now try a search for "excessive celebrity pay," and you'll get exactly 0 hits.
Another factor to consider when comparing CEOs and celebrities is the amount of time worked per year. Most people would agree that CEOs work full-time, year-round, probably 60-hour weeks, whereas a lot of athletes, musicians and actors (Madonna, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Bon Jovi) realistically only really work during part of the year. On a per-hour basis, the "pay gap" between CEOs and celebrities would be even greater!