Elon Musk towered over the highest paid CEOs at publicly traded U.S. automotive companies last year after exercising stock options that skyrocketed his compensation from five figures to 10.
The Tesla Inc. CEO, who usually sits at the bottom of the list because of his penchant for requesting — and refusing to take — California's minimum wage, posted the largest total CEO compensation by a margin of more than a $1 billion. Musk exercised $1.34 billion in stock options set to expire in 2016, according to the Automotive News/Equilar CEO Compensation study.
His pay increased by 3.6 million percent.
However, Musk's reported total compensation "was not actually received in cash upon these exercises," a Tesla proxy statement said. Musk sold $593 million in stock, which was used "solely in order to pay ... income taxes related to such exercise," according to the proxy.