Who makes more: Top-10 CEO's or Top-10 Athletes?
Both lists were surprising...I will be impressed if you guess more than 5 correct in either list (if you haven't peeked already). I hadn't heard of two of the top 10 athletes.
Top 10 CEO's (2008 total realized comp):
Blackstone Group, Stephen Schwarzman, $702.4M
Oracle, Larry Ellison, $557M
Occidental Petroleum Ray Irani, $222.6M
Hess, John Hess, $159.6M
Ultra Petroleum, Michael Watford, $117M
Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon, $114.3M
XTO Energy, Bob Simpson, $103.5M
EOG Resources, Mark Papa, $90.5M
Narbors Industries, Eugene Isenberg, $79.3M
Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Jeffries, $71.8M
Top 10 Athletes (2009 Forbes list includes earnings, sponsorships, etc.):
Tiger Woods, Golf, $110M
Kobe Bryant, Basketball, $45M
Michael Jordan, Basketball -- retired, $45M
Kimi Raikkonen, Formula One, $45M
David Beckham, Soccer, $42M
LeBron James, Basketball, $40M
Phil Mickelson, Golf, $40M
Manny Pacquiao, Boxing, $40M
Valentino Rossi, Motorcycle, $35M (really?!?!)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR, $34M
Unlike most sports radio callers (I'm looking at you, Bob in Newark), I don't have much problem with the athletes' earnings (which, you'll notice, are dwarfed by their CEO counterparts): 1) They provide real value to sports fans and companies who pay for their endorsements. 2) They must rise to the top of their sports to generate these outsize earnings. 3) Most athletes have a very limited window in which to earn. 4) A lot of athletes pay huge physical tolls later in life (especially football players, none of whom cracked the top 10).
As for CEO comp, I'm more critical (not of them for taking the money, though...who wouldn't?): 1) The value they provide is debatable, variable, and hard to measure. I differentiate entrepreneurs from non-founding CEO's...if you've taken the risk and started a company, you deserve the spoils. 2) You don't hear about too many CEO's blowing their arms out in college or wasting away in the minors, hoping to get their shot. The middle managers who never make CEO make some good scratch. 3) Unlike most athletes, business folks can earn money their entire lives. 4) In terms of physical tolls, a lot of CEO's suffer from tennis elbow.
- Anand (TMFBomb), who's off to learn how to ride a motorcycle.
The Corporate Library's CEO rankings (via Tech Ticker)
Forbes Athlete rankings
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