These CEOs Earned $1 Last Year

At least several heads of public companies take home virtually no paycheck. Find out who made the list.

John Mackey might be co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, but he wouldn’t be able to afford groceries there on the salary he earned last year.

Mackey and Richard Kinder, CEO of energy pipeline operator Kinder Morgan, are among S&P 500 leaders who were paid $1 last year, USA Today reported this morning.

Based on the newspaper’s analysis of S&P data, the lowest-paid leaders in the Standard & Poor’s 500 last year include:

  • Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder: $1
  • Whole Foods Market co-CEO John Mackey: $1
  • Symantec CEO Michael Brown: $376,364. (This figure represents pay for less than a month of work as interim CEO due to the timing of Brown taking over as CEO and the end of Symantec’s fiscal year.)
  • Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett: $464,011
  • Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne: $535,636

Roughly 100 proxy statements, which disclose how much CEOs are paid, are still due from companies in the S&P 500. So there could be other $1-per-year CEOs.

There are also $1-per-year CEOs at smaller public companies in the S&P SmallCap 600 and S&P MidCap 400 indexes, USA Today reports: James Truchard, CEO of measurement toolmaker National Instruments, earned $1 last year. Kosta Kartsotis, CEO of watchmaker Fossil, has worked for free for at least the past three years.

All of these figures include the total reported pay for the fiscal year, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidelines. That means they include salary, bonuses and stock grants.

Kinder has reportedly never collected a bonus since he co-founded Kinder Morgan in 1997. Nor were any bonuses or stock grants reported for Mackey, who also took home $1 in 2013 and about $69,000 in 2012.

Of course, stock dividends can pay better than salaries if you amass as much stock as Kinder has, USA Today reports:

Kinder — very wisely in hindsight — never sold a single share of the company he co-founded…

[He] owns roughly 245 million shares. That means he hauls in dividends of $400 million a year. That’s larger than the total pay of any S&P 500 company to report pay data so far for 2014.

Speaking of large payouts, USA Today reported last week that Chipotle Mexican Grill co-CEOs Montgomery Moran and Steve Ells had taken that cake. Each earned what came out to $13,000 an hour.

What’s your take on CEO salaries? Sound off with a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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