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Apple's Steve Jobs tops list of highest paid CEOs

Despite a $1 yearly salary, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs still managed to top Forbes' list of highest paid CEOs for 2006, raking in more than $646 million through stock-based compensation —more than twice that of the next highest paid boss.

The financial publication reported that chief executives of America's 500 biggest companies got a collective 38 percent pay raise last year, to $7.5 billion; an average $15.2 million apiece.

Jobs' $646.6 million came in the form of restricted stock options that vested during the year, bringing his 5-year compensation total for work done at Apple to $650.17 million.

While some components of executive compensation have changed over the years, Forbes noted that exercised stock options are still the main component of pay. Based on the 200 bosses tracked by the publication, stocks accounted for 48 percent of executive pay, or an average gain of $7.3 million per CEO.

Following Jobs as the second highest paid chief executive was Occidental Petroleum boss Ray Irani, who earned $321.64 million. He was followed by IAC/InterActiveCorp chief executive Barry Diller ($295 million), Fidelity National Finl CEO William P Foley II ($179 million), and Yahoo chief Terry Semel ($174 million).

Michael Dell, founder of Apple rival Dell, came in as the 6th highest compensated chief executive with a paycheck of $153 million.

It should be noted that Forbes counts compensation when it turns into cash or marketable stock but does not value or count options until the executive exercises them.