Slideshow: CEOs in the $1 salary club

Jaclyn Giovis Jan 27, 2011

By Jaclyn Giovis
January 27, 2011

NFL head Roger Goodell pledged to reduce his salary from $10 million to $1 if current player negotiations end in a work stoppage.

He’s not the only big-shot who will work for a dollar’s salary in challenging times. For decades, corporate leaders have joined the $1 salary club in an gallant effort to lead by example during tough times.

But so often these executives aren’t hurting for a paycheck. They are are billionaires who reap their fortunes in stock holdings, bonuses, and other compensation. As Steve Henn reported in today’s show, a CEO’s base salary has become as insignificant as a rounding error.

The reason for this is that in the early 1990s Congress passed a law that said any CEO salary over a million dollars was not deductible as a business expense for the company. And yet, performance-related compensation remained still deductible.

Here are a just few wealthy top guns in the $1 salary club:

**NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell makes about $10 million a year including bonuses, the AP reports. In the case of work stoppage, he asked the league’s compensation committee to forgo his salary and delay any bonus payments until after a deal is reached with the NFL Players Association.

**Lee Iaccoca, former Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, set the precedent for a $1 salary in 1978. When the automaker was in dire financial straits, Iacocca made an effort to lead by example by lowering his own salary. He pushed Congress for a bailout package, which he eventually received, and after a few years returned the company to financial health, according to Businessweek.

**Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has taken home a $1 salary since 1997. He’s earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records at one point as the official “World’s Lowest Paid Chief Executive Officer.” However, he owns 5.5 million of Apple’s shares, according to the Associated Press, which is worth about $1.9 billion. As is customary, Jobs got no bonus or perks during fiscal year 2010. However, the company reimburses him for expenses such as travel on his personal jet, a $90 million Gulfstream V that he received as a bonus in 1999.

**Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, worked for $1 last year and he did not receive a bonus in cash or stock. In February 2009, he agreed to work for $1 until Citigroup was profitable again. The bank last week announced it posted $10.6 billion in net income for 2010, and as a result, the company agreed to restore his salary to $1.75 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

**While CEO of Google in 2008 and 2009, Eric Schmidt earned a base salary of $1, though he earned other compensation of $508,763 and $243,661, respectively, according to the filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He did not receive any cash, stock, or options. But as of December 31, Schmidt had about 9.2 million shares of Google stock, according to Reuters. Schmidt, who will step down from his post in April, was awarded $250,000 in benefits and $100 million bonus as a parting gift.

**Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in their garage in 1996, but for several years they’ve only drawn a salary of $1. Their personal fortunes are estimated at $15 billion, according to Forbes.

**Richard Kinder, the founder of energy pipeline company Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, gets a buck a year for his efforts. The former executive of the now-defunct Enron began drawing the $1 salary in 1999. Although Kinder passes on a salary, he still earns dividend income from his hefty stake in the company.

**Larry Ellison is a flamboyant, big-spender, but he only commands a dollar a year to lead the database giant. He owns the world’s largest private yacht, and at one time owned the world’s largest house, according to

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.