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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many corporate boards made mid-pandemic changes to the intricate formulas that determine CEO pay, with directors declaring that COVID was an extraordinary event beyond executives' control, AP reports.

Why it matters: As a result, pay packages rose last year for CEOs of the biggest companies, even though the pandemic sent the economy to its worst quarter on record.

The median pay package for a CEO at an S&P 500 company hit $12.7 million in 2020, according to data analyzed for AP by Equilar. (That means half of the 342 CEOs in the survey made more, and half made less.)

  • 61% of the CEOs got a boost in compensation last year.

How it works: Several CEOs took high-profile salary cuts as an act of shared sacrifice. Roughly one of every five CEOs in this year’s survey had a smaller salary for 2020 than the year before.

  • But salary is often a minor piece of a CEO’s total compensation, which is derived from notoriously complex formulas. Each year, companies fill pages of their proxy statements with charts and footnotes showing how the bulk of their CEO’s pay rises and falls with corporate performance.
  • That nuanced area is where many companies adjusted levers.

Go deeper

Biggest U.S. bank CEOs grilled over profits and priorities

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The CEOs of the six biggest U.S. banks gathered before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008 to face questions over their institutions' roles in American life.

Why it matters: Banks' record profits during the past year came as many Americans suffered job loss and economic and health insecurity. Along partisan lines, senators shared glimpses into very different views of the responsibilities of banks in the U.S. economy and society.

Updated 13 mins ago - Science

NTSB probes deadly Alabama crash as storms lash Southeast and Midwest

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's sent a team to Alabama to help investigate a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash that killed 10 people, including nine children.

The big picture: Saturday's crash, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" in the Southeast over the weekend, per AP. Parts of the Midwest, including Indiana and Chicago, where a tornado struck late Sunday.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.