Money for (Practically) Nothing: 4 Very Big Paychecks for Very Little Work

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Work hard, get promoted, succeed in your new post, and eventually you'll start earning the big money. This progression seems like a firmly ingrained part of the American Dream, and it's certainly worked for a lot of people.

However, these steps aren't absolutely necessary to fatten your bank account, as Washington Mutual CEO Alan Fishman learned back in September. When WaMu failed and was seized by government regulators, Fishman had been on the job for just 17 days. However, he was contractually guaranteed $11.6 million in cash severance on top of the $7.5 million signing bonus he got for taking the job. Basically, Fishman netted just under $20 million for 17 days of work, which is a pretty nice setup for the head of a collapsing corporation. (In Fishman's defense, it's tough to blame WaMu's failure on his leadership alone; it seems highly unlikely that any CEO, however determined, could crash such a large thrift in just two weeks.)

Fishman's not the only person to reap huge rewards for relatively little work. Here are few other well-compensated employees who didn't have to put in too many years of service:

1. Michael Ovitz

After co-founding Creative Artists Agency in 1975, Ovitz quickly skyrocketed through the ranks of entertainment agents until he established himself as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. In 1995, though, he left CAA to become president of Disney. Ovitz's tenure at Disney was stormy; he clashed with CEO Michael Eisner, who didn't share Ovitz's penchant for delegation. Ovitz also racked up a $6 million tab for various expenses ranging from renovating his office, buying Lakers tickets, and purchasing a BMW. It quickly became obvious that Ovitz wasn't going to be a great fit at Eisner's Disney, so the board terminated his contract after just 16 months. While Ovitz put in more work that Alan Fishman did at WaMu, he also received a lot more cash: a severance package of stock and cash that was worth around $100 million at the time. As Disney's stock price rose, though, so did the value of the package; at one point Ovitz's take might have been as much as $140 million for those 16 months of work.

2. Billy Dee Williams

Critics raved about Aaron Eckhart's turn as Harvey Dent in this summer's The Dark Knight, and most couldn't help but mention that it was a marked improvement over Tommy Lee Jones' campy portrayal of Two-Face in 1995's Batman Forever. However, Jones wasn't the only man to portray Dent in that run of Caped Crusader films. Billy Dee Williams had the role of Dent in Tim Burton's 1989 film Batman. Although the role was a fairly minor one in that film, Williams allegedly took the part with the understanding that he would reprise the character in a sequel in which Two-Face would be one of Batman's antagonists. To this end he had a pay-or-play clause inserted in his contract that basically assured that if the Harvey Dent/Two-Face character appeared in a future Warner Bros. Batman film, Williams would play the role. If the director chose to cast another actor in the part, the studio would have to cough up a buyout to Williams.

In the end, that's exactly what happened: when Tim Burton left the series' helm, Joel Schumacher took over and wanted to cast Jones in the part. Williams received a cash buyout to not be in Batman Forever, a deal most of the principals in the critical disaster probably wish they'd been offered themselves.

3. Carl Pavano

When a professional baseball player signs a new deal, he's pretty much guaranteed to pull in the cash regardless of whether or not he plays. If you want proof, just mention the name Carl Pavano to New York Yankees fans and watch as their faces contort in terror. After an early stint in Montreal and three fairly strong seasons in Florida, Pavano signed a four-year contract worth $39.95 million with the Yankees before the 2005 season. He then got injured. Frequently. The pitcher's ill-fated tenure in the Bronx included pretty standard baseball injuries like an elbow strain and some problems with his throwing shoulder, but he also had some booboos that made Yankees fans wonder if he might be cursed, including two broken ribs in a car crash and a disabled-list trip for bruised buttocks. In all, the Yankees shelled out that $39.95 million for Pavano to make 26 starts over the four-year span. To make matters worse, on the rare occasions when Pavano was healthy he wasn't very good at baseball. His best season with the Yankees saw him compile a 4.77 ERA and allow 1.47 baserunners per inning he pitched. Even Mike Hampton, baseball's other pricy-but-fragile starter, has to shake his head at those numbers.

4. Edward McSweegan

While he may not be as high profile or as well-paid as the other names on this list, McSweegan may have found the sweetest deal an average guy could find. In a coup ripped directly from one of George Costanza's daydreams, McSweegan claimed that he did nothing for seven years while employed as a scientist at the National Institutes of Health. In 2003 McSweegan told the Washington Post that he hadn't really been given any job responsibilities since 1996. Prior to that, he had been a researcher and program officer on Lyme disease, but he was removed from that position in 1995 for arguing with a sufferers' support group. Although he had a title as director of the U.S.-Indo Vaccine Action Program and a list of nominal duties associated with that role, McSweegan claimed that he only carried out the tiniest of tasks like ordering coffee. In exchange, he received a salary in the neighborhood of $100,000.

When the NIH vehemently disputed McSweegan's story that he simply went to work and did nothing all day, he maintained that he never received any assignments. McSweegan would show up, sit in his office, and read to kill time. He took up fiction writing to fill his workdays and published a pair of novels he allegedly wrote while at the office. He told CBS in an interview that he also joined a health club near work "just to sort of break up the day."

The most amazing part of McSweegan's story isn't that he managed to stay employed through this seven-year period, but that he received positive performance reviews from his superiors. He wryly explained to CBS, "I guess I'm good at doing nothing."

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Tom Brady Makes Nearly $1.5 Million Per Hour of Playtime—Which Is Only a Fraction of the NFL’s Highest Paid Quarterbacks’ Earnings

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game in January 2020.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game in January 2020.
Elsa/Getty Images

Each week during football season, NFL quarterbacks face heaps of high-stakes pressure as millions tune in to watch them try to lead their teams to victory—or at least avoid getting blamed for bad passes. It’s by no means an easy job, but at least it pays well.

To find out just how well, AT&T affiliate All Home Connections analyzed the salaries and playing times of all the first-string quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL season. Even if you knew they were raking in piles of cash for every second they spent on the field, you might not have realized just how much.

If you’re looking for ways to justify despising Tom Brady, here’s one: He earns about $1.5 million for every hour of playtime. However, as any devoted New England Patriots fan will tell you, Brady is far from the highest-earning quarterback in the league, and he’s accepted lower base salaries throughout his career so the Patriots can use that extra money to build a championship-winning team around him.

When it comes to playtime earnings, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo beat Tom Brady and every other quarterback by millions—he landed in first place with an average of more than $27.6 million per hour on the field. Compared to Garoppolo, the $8.8 million of runner-up Aaron Rodgers practically seems like pocket change. Most of the other quarterbacks earn somewhere between $1 million and $4 million per hour of playtime.

Part of the reason it looks like Garoppolo out-earned his peers so spectacularly is because his total playtime for the 2018 season was much lower than everyone else’s, due to a knee injury he suffered during the third game of the season. For this study, All Home Connections added up each quarterback’s total number of snaps and multiplied it by their offense’s average seconds per play to estimate their overall playing time. Then, they divided that number by the quarterback’s 2018 salary. Since Garoppolo’s overall playing time was only about 1.5 hours, he got more buck for his bang. Brady, by comparison, clocked about 10 hours of playtime during 2018.

See the full breakdown here, and get ready for Super Bowl LIV with these fascinating Super Bowl facts.

[h/t All Home Connections]

The Two Types of Millennials, and the Differences Between Them

undefined undefined / iStock via Getty Images
undefined undefined / iStock via Getty Images

Though often described in blanket terms, each Millennial's experience varies greatly. And it isn't just their age ranges and relationships to technology that divide the generation. According to one expert, American Millennials (anyone born between the years 1981 and 1996) fall into two subgroups based on their levels of success: "me-llennials" and "mega-llennials."

Center for Generational Kinetics president Jason Dorsey, who researches Millennials, told Business Insider that life paths and financial status may be a better indicator of the differences in members of this generation than the years they were born. According to him, the first group feels behind in their careers and other areas of adult life, while the second group feels right on track.

For the first group, he coined the term "me-llennials." These are Millennials who fit the common narrative surrounding the generation: They're dealing with stagnant wages and career paths, unaffordable housing, and mountains of student loan debt. The homeownership rate of Millennials today is 8 percent lower than that of Baby Boomers at the same age. National student loan debt, meanwhile, reached a record high of $1.5 trillion in 2019.

Millennials belonging to the second group are at a much different place in life. These so-called "mega-llennials" manage their bills, feel satisfied with their careers, and are overall more financially stable than other members of their generation. For these reasons, mega-llennials may not relate to the typical millennial experience that's often reported.

These trends indicate that the story of Millennials' progress is more complicated than it may seem. While the combination of steep bills and low wages may be worse for young people today than it was for older generations, the Millennials who aren't dealing with those hardships have an even greater advantage over their peers. The gap between these subgroups will only get wider: Millennials are set to inherit trillions in wealth over the coming decades.

[h/t Business Insider]

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