Biggest CEO Bonuses for 2010

ceo bonuses 2010 During this time of year everyone worries about being thought of as naughty or nice. For children being on Santa's nice list mean receiving a plethora of toys under the Christmas tree, but for larger, older kids (i.e. working adults), being on the nice list means getting a big holiday bonus and the possibility of doubling (or better) your yearly earnings.

Most S&P companies don't report their bonus figures until the early spring, but there are about 60 companies on the list that have fiscal years that end earlier, meaning they do report their bonuses before the New Year. This gives everyone else a chance to get a glimpse of what Santa has put under the Christmas tree for the CEOs on the "nice" list.

ABC News spoke with Aaron Boyd, head of research for Equilar, a company that tracks what top executives are paid, and he said there are two things that are impressive about this year's top CEO bonuses. One, they are really big, and two, bonuses are now more dependant on how well a company performed in the past fiscal year, meaning if your company lost money and did poorly, CEO bonuses will tend to not be as large. "Companies are moving away from payout based purely on the discretion of the board. The trend is toward bonuses that are tied more closely to performance," Boyd told ABC News.

Here are the top winners on this year's nice list, making super large bonuses.

  1. William R. Johnson, chairman and president, H.J. Heinz: $8,589,063

    Who knew ketchup could be so lucrative? Well, for this CEO, his bonus for 2010 comes in at $8,589,063. This is an almost 18 percent increase over what he received in 2009. Johnson has been with the ketchup giant since 1982, has helped to expand their ketchup kingdom overseas, especially in China, where he was awarded the Marco Polo Award, the highest business honor China bestows on foreigners. A bonus this large makes you rethink the importance of condiments.

  2. Lawrence J. Ellison, chief executive officer, Oracle: $6,453,254

    This computer guru and competitive sports enthusiast received a $6,453,254 bonus this year, an almost 80 percent increase over what he received last year. Ellison founded the business software and hardware company in 1977 and has successfully increased sales year after year. You'll think twice before calling this guy a computer geek.

  3. John T. Chambers, chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems: $4,600,000

    While Chambers' bonus of $4, 600,000 only earns him the No. 3 ranking, his bonuses has increased over 125 percent compared to 2009, and his computer and telecom networking company has continued to increase its sales and net income from the previous fiscal year. We all could learn something from the way Chambers -- An expert in workplace learning -- runs a business.

  4. Mark G. Parker, president and CEO, Nike: $4,441,875

    Parker first began working at Nike in 1979, but has only been at the helm of this athletic outfitter since 2006. But, in that time, he has successfully expanded Nike's brands and increased Nike's commitment to corporate responsibility while increasing sales and raising the company's net income almost 30 percent. For his hard work, he has been rewarded with a $4,441,875 bonus -- a mind-blowing 393.5 percent increase over his 2009 bonus. Talk about just doing it: This CEO is definitely "working out" as the leader of his company.

  5. Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corp: $4,368,800

    Rounding out the top five is media mogul Murdoch. Since he began his publishing career in 1952 with just one family-owned newspaper in his native Australia, Murdoch has taken the states by storm and his list of accolades now includes The New York Post, TV Guide, The Daily (an iPad-only newspaper), DIRECTV and FOX Entertainment Group. Stuffed into this CEO's stocking this year was a $4,368,800 bonus. Don't think of him as greedy though, because this year's bonus is almost 20 percent less than what he was given last year, and at age 79, this media man was still able to increase News Corp.'s net income in 2010, after a $3.31 billion loss in 2009.

Obviously it goes without saying that these CEO bonuses are way above what average workers receive and even well above what most CEOs get paid at year's end; but all of these highly-bonused CEOs are well known, in the spotlight, and are also the ones who have high base salaries to begin with.

Also of note is the fact that many top-paid CEOs of well-known companies, such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., are choosing to take smaller bonuses this year than in previous years to avoid public ridicule -- proving that concern over perception regarding being naughty or nice really does have an effect on people of all ages, from the youngest of children to the oldest of CEOs.

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I say cut the bonuses and hire more employees! This will help our economy more than anything else by getting the unemployed jobs. They could afford to live in a home with their families again which will help the housing problem. Instead of the rich get richer and poor stay homeless! Glad that companies are doing well but they need to think about those they laid off! There is plenty to share! Bottoom line...this is disappointing news. Not much different from 2008 where the banks handed out huge bonuses with our stimilus money!

May 08 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, if Hollywood elitists (actors, directors, producers, etc.) would only give part of their millions earned for each movie, then the world would be a better place. Hollywood liberals and their whining opinions would be insignificant if they weren't so darn rich. Same thing with athletic bad boys who crash and burn they have so much money to spare. As for me, I'm giving neither of the two any of my hard-earned money. Let THEM eat cake.

December 27 2010 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am not mad at any of these CEOs. I only wish that many of us were able to make the same thing and then see what we would do with the cash. Sometimes it is easy to tell others what to do with their money but it is all together a different story when we get the chance to really help someone. Then again, do the same people need help all the time. Let's finds ways to help people help themself. I barely do okay on my salary but I still try to help people. If you can not help others when you are down you will never be able to help others when you are up.

December 27 2010 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They keep taking wnd when the company is in trouble the run to us to bail them out and then they start taking again.

December 27 2010 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oracle, nike, heinze, et. al. can go straight to hell before i purchase their product again.

December 27 2010 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

they should be held directly liable and responsible, sans insurance of ANY sort, if their respective company does not produce double the profit in each and every following year, and if not, every penny of every bonus they have EVER received should be taken from them.

December 27 2010 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

6.5 million bonuses ?? sickening to my stomach . It makes hard working people sick. No one should get 6 million dollars bonuses , no one.

December 27 2010 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Trickle down as diffined by a CEO. Make my bonus, when I die spread it to my hires. They will invest it and not work..because $10 million at 5% = 500,000 and that's just one year bonus. Result will be a cast system , not capitalism. Remember who get in the best schools in the country. The #1 qualification is...did your father, mother or relatives go here ! Yes we will let a few talented people just to keep things straight. This country is so corrupt it will be impossible to fix. Take a good look at these may have seen them before as used car dealers.

December 27 2010 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

have anyone ask those companies if they have give bonuses to their low key employees, i bet you they did, not millions of course, but i'll bet on a company that employe 30000 employees they give each of them at least $200 bonuse, if you multiply that the company gived their low key employees more than their ceo.(double to be exact). and i bet those employees were very happy with the bonuse and to have a job too, i am sure they are thanksfull to their company. America wants capitalism vs socialism well this is what it is, if you do not like it you should voice your opinion to your government, but from the look of it noone in this country likes socialism, looks like everyone wants money for nothing. good luck with that

December 27 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CEO's do not create jobs. Good products create jobs by increasing demand to buy them. Bonuses should not be given for the number of sales. Sales could produce negative earnings. Revenue - cost of goods sold - expenses = profit . You should be paid on profits. When profits are bonuses should be given. This is what happened to the stimulus package. Our tax money went to pay these CEO's bonus instead of putting money into banks for loans. Bonuses shoiuld be voted buy the stock holders who actually own part of the company by being an invester. When a CEO take a large bonus, he is taking money away from the stockholder. You can't give the stockholder a bone. Imagine where this country would be if you reduced bonuses by just 50%. I don't know why any bonuses should ever be given. You do your get paid a salary...end of story.

December 27 2010 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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