America's 10 Highest-Paid CEOs of 2011 (and How They Earned It)

Disney CEOFor the past few years, corporate compensation has been a major point of contention between Wall Street and Main Street. CEO paychecks have continued to explode, even while millions of workers have been making do with less.

This year was no exception: the average CEO of an S&P 500 company brings home almost $13 million, as much money as 383 average households. The head of an average public company overall raked in a slightly less impressive $9.6 million. The Associated Press' list of the 10 highest-paid CEOs highlights where the big paychecks go -- and what America's companies are getting in return.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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Little Common Sense

This is where the trickle down money is going! Company CEO's are signing there own checks and leaving us to the high gas prices, increased food prices, increaed energy bills and layoffs. Trickle down my foot, the only trickle down the middle class sees is coming out of my pecker in the toilet because its not coming from anywhere else. I think over the last 3 - 4 years I have got a raise that may = 7%.. These nuts are getting over 100% increases in pay year over year... Not hard to see that we are on our own and entreprenuership better be in your plan for the fuure!!

July 31 2012 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just to give you an idea of the mis-management performed by CEO's while over-compensating themselves, Verizon has been using pension money to cover the true costs of the wholesale purchase of smartphones so they can be sold to subscribers at a deep retail discount. The hope is that doing so will keep the subscriber loyal to the company, and the cost of this subsidy will be returned over the length of the subscriber's cell phone contract. In reality, this brilliance has caused the pension to be underfunded by an additional (yes, it was already underfunded) $2 BILLION dollars in ONE YEARLY QUARTER. Because of the prior pension deficit of $3.4 BILLION being combined with this one, Verizon's pension fund levels are now reaching the point where employer contributions required by law need to be made--which Verizon is seeking to pass onto its employees while it NETS $10 BILLION in profit for they year! In the meantime, the CEO TRIPLES HIS OWN COMPENSATION PACKAGE, and now gets paid $23 million per year.

CEO compensation is not linked to peformance.

May 30 2012 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to a000000oooooo's comment

t trevor, you again show that you are not willing to do the work needed to refute my statements. What does "most likely" have to do with anything? Verizon's pension account is over $5 BILLION short--this isn't about changes in the GATT rate. Verizon is raiding the account to subsidize business losses, as well as to fund buyout packages so it can get employees off of the payroll. Because of this, the account is almost 20% underfunded. Once it hits that 20% mark, Federal laws will require Verizon to contribute to it. Verizon's "strategy" to get these contributions to occur is to change its union contract terms to require these employees to begin to make pension contributions. In addition, Verizon is seeking to freeze its employees pensions. Verizon is quite forthcoming with wanting to have union employees make up this difference.

So again, do a little homework so you YOURSELF don't look like an idiot.

May 31 2012 at 9:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to a000000oooooo's comment

t trevor, the FLYING PIG:

You poor excuse for an self-proclaimed know-it-all. Your search skills SUCK. Go back to the Investors section, and READ THE TRANSCRIPTS AS WELL AS VIEW THE PRESENTATIONS for the quarterly reports that are ARCHIVED. Also, do news article searches. I found all of this data that I referenced, and according to you, I have 2nd grade search skills. Since you cannot find any of this info, you must have the Internet search skills of someone who isn't even old enough to be potty-trained.

If you still can't find any after my additional assistance today, don't worry. Verizon will be raiding the pension fund again this year (as they have been doing for the last several years) to fund additional buyouts. Verizon began notifying employees a few days ago of additional force reductions for this year, and will be laying off the balance of the employees who don't take a buyout. Those who were notified of pending force reductions/possible layoffs will be off the payroll somewhere around October or November of this year. They are also relocating call centers overseas this year, and are encouraging buyouts for those employees as well--while trying to get union members to agree to begin contributing to their existing pensions while also agreeing for them to be frozen for employees with little senority.

In the meantime, PROVIDE THE EXACT SOURCE of YOUR "independent auditor"s data that disputes MY statements. Isn't it odd that you accuse me of lying because I haven't hand-delivered data on a silver platter to you, yet YOU can't even provide me ANY place to begin looking for yours?

Flying pig calling the pot black, dontcha think?

You and I agree on one thing only, which is that pension raiding is a dumb move. But, this is EXACTLY MY POINT of introducing it to this discussion. IT IS HAPPENING (even though you don't believe that it is)...and this is DUMB on a CEO's part; and it reinforces what I've said repeatedly about CEO's and their relative competency. t trevor, CEO's ARE DUMB, and CEO's have FEW job opportunities, which is why they need to provide themselves compensation protection due to poor performance.

June 02 2012 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Gee, t trevor. Verizon senior executives run conference calls for Wall Street every quarter, and ADMIT to the pension raiding. Yet, your "independent auditor" knows better?

You also need to learn to use Google better. The GATT rate is a Tresury Bond interest rate that is used to determine the lump sum interest rates for pension payouts. It has an inverse effect on pension totals. If the GATT rate goes up, the lump some value goes down. If the GATT rate goes down, the lump sump value goes up. As such, it plays a major role in determining whether a pension is properly funded.

So, stop being the criminal on this thread.

May 31 2012 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to a000000oooooo's comment


May 29 2012 at 10:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Obamas' hypocricy on "one-percent" exposed:

May 29 2012 at 6:06 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

No individual is worth this kind of money. The 99% are appalled by this and should be. The only thing that one can hope is that Matthew quoted Christ correctly when he said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven." Enjoy your wealth in this world gentlemen. What have you banked for the next?

May 28 2012 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Pete's comment

Yeah, yeah, sure. Here's the Obamas' hypocricy:

May 29 2012 at 6:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Carole Ann

No one is worth that kind of money. If any of them croaked, the next in line would take their place. Greed has no boundaries and they just laugh at the middle class.

May 28 2012 at 12:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How much do the top ten hollywood entertainers and the top ten athletes make???? The CEO salaries are chump change in comparison. Many of the critics seem to only envy what CEOs make and give a free pass to entertainers and athletes. At least the CEOs are in charge of businesses which in most cases are responsible for many thousands of jobs. In many cases these are high paying jobs especially when compared to hot dog sellers at a football, basketball or baseball game! As for the bloggers who whine about taxes I bet that almost all of them take deductions to lower their taxes if they pay any taxes at all. Do not forget that the top 10% already pay almost 70% of all of the federal taxes collected. Thanks to them middle class taxpayers like me do not have to pay more.

May 28 2012 at 12:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bbenz56's comment

You won't hear about that from the Obama-propaganda media, AOL/HuffPuff and their silly blogger, Bruce. Check this out:'

May 29 2012 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This wasn't shocking, it was DISGUSTING and sickening, the greed of these CEOs'. How much money is ENOUGH money?

May 28 2012 at 12:01 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

...Gazillion $$ CEO's....that's a perfect society !...I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this

May 28 2012 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Greed. The American way of life.

May 28 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply