Who Earns the World’s Biggest Salary?


Have you ever wondered who in the world draws the biggest annual salary?

It is fairly difficult to get a definitive answer to this, as factors such as bonuses and share options can make a big difference year on year. Once we get into the world of sport we also need to look at issues like varying endorsements year on year.

Having said all of that, here are some details I have found on the world’s best salaries over the last few years.

Tim Cook?

Some people have the Apple CEO and Business Executive down as having the world’s best salary. In 2011 he is said to have got paid $377,996,537, which was largely made up of a stock grant. In 2012 he got a little over $4 million. In 2013 he lost out on an additional $4 million because of the poor performance of the firm’s stock. However, he still took home $1.4 million in salary, $2.8 million in bonuses and $36.4 million in stock options last year. Still quite a nice amount to get paid, really.

David Simon?

David Simon is the CEO and chairman of the Simon Property Group. In 2011 he picked up a very nice $137,166,545. This was made up of a basic annual salary of $1.25 million, bonuses of $4 million and stock awards of $120 million.  This huge amount of stock was given as a retention bonus rather than being linked to performance or anything else. This massive payout caused a shareholder lawsuit to be raised against the company in 2012 but I can’t find any details on how that all worked out and what he got paid since then.

Eric Schmidt?

You would expect the Executive Chairman of Google to take home a healthy salary, wouldn’t you? Schmidt is ranked in the top 150 richest people in the world, with an estimated personal wealth of over $8 billion. How much does he get paid each year, though? In 2010 he got paid $313,219 as the CEO but in 2011 this shot up to $101 million as he made the switch to his new role. What made the difference? Well, would you believe that those old stock options are at play again? He got $94 million of them as well as a $6 million bonus. In his case, his wealth comes almost entirely from stock options instead of a big salary. In fact, he is among a select band of people who have become billionaires from stock options they have received as an employee rather than in a company they founded.

Larry Ellison?

As the Chief Executive of Oracle, Ellison got a nice wage of $96,160,696 a couple of years back. He is classed as the 3rd richest person in America and the 8th richest in the world yet he only gets a base salary of $1 from what I can tell. Like more of the other people we have seen on the list, his massive fortune ($44 billion) comes almost entirely from – you guessed it – stock options.

Tiger Woods?

What about sportspeople? I must confess that I was surprised to see Tiger Woods top of the list for sports people in 2013. He earned a total of $78 million last year, with $65 million of this coming from endorsements.

Roger Federer?

The Swiss tennis player is listed as the second highest paid sports person for 2013. He earned $71.5 million, $65 million of which came from endorsements.

Drew Brees?

The biggest straight salary in sport I can see belongs to footballer Brees, whose salary is listed as $40 million for 2013, with an additional $11 million earned in endorsements. However, when I checked it out further it turned out that $3 million was his annual salary and $37 million his signing on fee.

The moral of this story is that you don’t need a bigger salary. You need stock options or endorsements.

10 Responses to Who Earns the World’s Biggest Salary?

  1. Kathy says:

    Don’t know if this is true but I’ve read that William Shatner agreed to take stock in Priceline rather than salary when he became their spokesman years ago. The company wasn’t making money yet and couldn’t afford to pay a big salary. Shatner took a chance and boy has it paid off big. The stock is now worth well over $1000 a share. I’ve heard that Shatner is a great business man and this would seem to prove that.

  2. Wow, that was a huge amount for them! How about Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook? I had read that he is one of the highest paid C.E.O. too.

    • Robert Bell says:

      I would be happy wearing their logo on all of my clothes if anyone is interested in endorsing me as well Stefanie

  3. What I always think about with these guys is how measly our debt amount must look to them, and yet to us it’s massive.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Great point Laurie. On a normal salary a debt of a few thousand can stop you from sleeping at night but these guys earn that in a couple of days.

  4. SavvyJames says:

    No doubt there are some serious salaries there. I guess I will just accept my pittance of a salary, keep investing aggressively, and be satisfied with a comfortable income from my portfolio in retirement.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Very few of us can expect to earn a giant salary James. As you say, we just have to make the most of what we have

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