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Here’s How Much the Top CEOs of S&P 500 Companies Get Paid



Here's How Much Top CEOs of S&P 500 Companies Get Paid

How Much the Top CEOs of S&P 500 Companies Get Paid

How much do the CEOs from some of the world’s most important companies get paid, and do these top CEOs deliver commensurate returns to shareholders?

Today’s infographic comes to us from and it visualizes data on S&P 500 companies to see if there is any relationship between CEO pay and stock performance.

For Richer or Poorer

To begin, let’s look at the highest and lowest paid CEOs on the S&P 500, and their associated performance levels. Data here comes from a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Below are the five CEOs with the most pay in 2018:

RankCEOCompanyPay (2018)Shareholder Return
#1David ZaslavDiscovery, Inc.$129.4 million10.5%
#2Stephen AngelLinde$66.1 million3.1%
#3Bob IgerDisney$65.6 million20.4%
#4Richard HandlerJefferies$44.7 million-14.9%
#5Stephen MacMillanHologic$42.0 million11.7%

Last year, David Zaslav led top CEOs by taking home $129.4 million from Discovery, Inc., the parent company of various TV properties such as the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network, and other non-fiction focused programming. He delivered a 10.4% shareholder return, when the S&P 500 itself finished in negative territory in 2018.

Of the mix of highest-paid CEOs, Bob Iger of Disney may be able to claim the biggest impact. He helped close a $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, while also leading Disney’s efforts to launch a streaming service to compete with Netflix. The market rewarded Disney with a 20.4% shareholder return, while Iger received a paycheck of $65.6 million.

Now, let’s look at the lowest paid CEOs in 2018:

RankCEOCompanyPay (2018)Shareholder Return
#1Larry PageAlphabet$1-0.8%
#2Jack DorseyTwitter$119.7%
#3A. Jayson AdairCopart$203,00082.2%
#4Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway$398,0003.0%
#5Valentin GapontsevIPG Photonics$1.7 million-47.1%

On the list of lowest paid CEOs, we see two tech titans (Larry Page and Jack Dorsey) that have each opted for $1 salaries. Of course, they are both billionaires that own large amounts of shares in their respective companies, so they are not particularly worried about annual paychecks.

Also appearing here is Warren Buffett, who is technically paid $100,000 per year by Berkshire Hathaway plus an amount of “other compensation” that fluctuates annually. While this is indeed a modest salary, the Warren Buffett Empire is anything but modest in size – and the legendary value investor currently holds a net worth of $84.3 billion.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while J. Jayson Adair of Copart was one of the lowest paid CEOs at $203,000 in 2018, the company had the best return on the S&P 500 at 82.2%. Today, the company’s stock price still sits near all-time highs.

Maxing Returns

Finally, let’s take a peek at the CEOs that received the highest shareholder returns, and if they seem to correlate with compensation at all.

RankCEOCompanyPay (2018)Shareholder Return
#1A. Jayson AdairCopart$203,00082.2%
#2Lisa SuAMD$13.4 million79.6%
#3François Locoh-DonouF5 Networks$6.9 million65.4%
#4Sanjay MehrotraMicron Technology$14.2 million64.3%
#5Ken XieFortinet$6.8 million61.2%

Interestingly, three of highest performing CEOs – in terms of shareholder returns – actually took home smaller amounts than the median S&P 500 annual paycheck of $12.4 million. This includes the aforementioned A. Jayson Adair, who raked in only $203,000 in 2018.

That said, there is a good counterpoint to this as well.

Of the five CEOs who had the worst returns, four of them made less than the median value of $12.4 million, while one remaining CEO took home slightly more. In other words, both the best and worst performing CEOs skew towards lower-than-average pay to some degree.

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Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value

Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?



A cropped chart showing the leaders in rough diamond mining and how much their diamond output is worth.

Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—mining for them from deposits within their territories.

This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.

Rough Diamond Production, By Weight

Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.

ℹ️ Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds. One carat equals 0.200 grams, which means it takes over 2,265 carats to equal 1 pound.

Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.

Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Production (Carats)
1🇷🇺 Russia41,923,910
2🇧🇼 Botswana24,752,967
3🇨🇦 Canada16,249,218
4🇨🇩 DRC9,908,998
5🇿🇦 South Africa9,660,233
6🇦🇴 Angola8,763,309
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe4,461,450
8🇳🇦 Namibia2,054,227
9🇱🇸 Lesotho727,737
10🇸🇱 Sierra Leone688,970
11🇹🇿 Tanzania375,533
12🇧🇷 Brazil158,420
13🇬🇳 Guinea128,771
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
15🇬🇾 Guyana83,382
16🇬🇭 Ghana82,500
17🇱🇷 Liberia52,165
18🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire3,904
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo3,534
20🇨🇲 Cameroon2,431
21🇻🇪 Venezuela1,665
22🇲🇱 Mali92

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.

As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.

Diamond Mining, by Country

However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.

Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Value (USD)
1🇧🇼 Botswana$4,975M
2🇷🇺 Russia$3,553M
3🇦🇴 Angola$1,965M
4🇨🇦 Canada$1,877M
5🇿🇦 South Africa$1,538M
6🇳🇦 Namibia$1,234M
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe$424M
8🇱🇸 Lesotho$314M
9🇸🇱 Sierra Leone$143M
10🇹🇿 Tanzania$110M
11🇨🇩 DRC$65M
12🇧🇷 Brazil$30M
13🇱🇷 Liberia$18M
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
15🇬🇾 Guyana$14M
16🇬🇳 Guinea$6M
17🇬🇭 Ghana$3M
18🇨🇲 Cameroon$0.25M
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo$0.20M
20🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire$0.16M
21🇻🇪 Venezuela$0.10M
22🇲🇱 Mali$0.06M

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.

Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.

Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.

Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.

Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?

Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.

RankRegionShare of Rough
Diamond Production (%)
Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
3North America13.5%52.8%
4South America0.2%2.4%

However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.

By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.

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