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CEOs vs Celebrities: Who Really Makes More Money?

It’s no secret that being a CEO and a celebrity brings in the big bucks. With multimillion-dollar deals and huge payouts, it’s not surprising to see people in these fields and professions consistently appearing on various rich lists. But, which of the two is the more lucrative career when earnings are considered?

Median CEO Pay

Google co-founder and current Alphabet CEO is a billionaire but only earned $1 in salary for the position in 2018

According to 2018 data, the median annual salary that an S&P 500 company CEO made is $12.4 million. Sounds impressive? Well, not quite, especially when compared to how much some A-listers are making for individual gigs alone.

For example, it’s reported that pop star Katy Perry was paid double that amount for appearing as a judge in the reality talent show, ‘American Idol’. Even more impressive is the $33 million Canadian diva Celine Dion took home for her Las Vegas stint.

It’s also important to note that there are plenty of outlier cases from that aforementioned median CEO salary. There are some billionaire CEOs who receive little to no payouts for performing their duties in the companies they manage. A good example is Jack Dorsey, who only got $1.40 last year as the CEO of  Twitter.

Meanwhile, it’s another story on the other side of the spectrum…

Other Cases to Consider

Discovery Channel’s CEO David Zaslav earned a total of $129 million (in salary and bonuses) in 2018 alone

Some CEO big earners’ annual payout can make that of top-earning celebrities look small. For example, Axon Enterprise’s Rick Smith received a whopping $246 million last year alone from the company best known for producing Taser. There’s also Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, who got $65.7 million in 2018. Though this one might not come as a surprise considering the consistent success that Disney-distributed films like the Avengers series, are enjoying.

A CEO’s annual payout may vary according to various factors. Some are paid in cash or base salaries alone, which means that regardless of the company’s performance, the executive will still receive the same amount in the end. Others are paid based on performance. This setup offers both risk and reward as a CEO’s fortune will be closely tied to that of their company’s success or failure.

Top Earners

Clooney is 2018’s highest-earning actor with $239 million according to Forbes

In the end, it’s difficult to determine just which profession earns more. If the current valuation of CEOs’ companies is disregarded, it would appear that a couple of celebrities actually earn more in a year than their executive counterparts. Both award-winning actor George Clooney and reality star Kylie Jenner outearn other top-paid CEOs, for one.

However, looking closer at the source of the two celebs’ dollars, it would appear that a great part of their earnings actually comes from business ventures as well instead of entertainment or acting gigs. There’s also the fact that the 21-year-old Jenner serves as the CEO of Kylie Cosmetics, the company that helped her become the youngest self-made billionaire.

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