These 9 CEOs Make At Least 800 Times More Than Their Employees

And their companies aren’t always doing too hot, either.

Discovery Communications’ stock fell 24% last year, but its CEO still made $156.1 million. It’s a number so astronomical that it seems abstract–until you compare it to what a typical employee at the company makes. CEO David Zaslav makes 2,282 times more than the people who worked behind the scenes to bring you Shark Week.


Using median salaries from and CEO compensation from S&P Capital IQ, USA Today crunched numbers to find out how much more corporate CEOs are making than their employees. On average, they made 216 times more than the median of their employees’ salaries. But nine of them made that average seem paltry. These guys make at least 800 times more.

Of course, CEOs have always been paid well, but the gap has never been this big. In 1978, average CEOs were making around $1.5 million; now they’re making $15 million, but worker salaries haven’t made the same gains.

The 9 Largest CEO to Median Worker Pay Ratios:

  1. Discovery Communications, David Zaslav, 2,282x
  2. Chipotle, Steven Ells, 1,524x
  3. Chipotle, Montgomery Moran, 1,483x
  4. CVS Health, Larry Merlo, 1,054x
  5. Starbucks, Howard Schultz, 994x
  6. Target, Brian Cornell, 843x
  7. CBS, Les Moonves, 817x
  8. Time Warner Cable, Robert Marcus, 807x
  9. Walmart, Douglas McMillon 804x

“We’ve seen basically CEO pay increase 1,000% since 1978, while worker pay has only increased about 11%,” says Alyssa Davis, co-author of a recent report at the Economic Policy Institute on the rise in CEO pay. “When you’re comparing these two, these companies are obviously extremely profitable, doing well, and could afford to pay their employees more. But they’re choosing to spend that money to exorbitantly award just a few individuals.”

A new SEC rule may help a little. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank act required companies to disclose how much more CEOs are making than the median salary at their companies. After five years of struggling to agree on how the median salary would be calculated, the SEC finally approved a rule. By 2017, corporations will have share the details of the pay gap.

“It’s a good first step to creating more transparency around this problem, and will hopefully spur a solution,” says Davis.



About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley