For most Fortune 500 CEOs, no matter how you perform, the one thing you can count on is that you will make a fortune.  Tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and even billions of dollars in pay and incentives are all on the table. 

There is one exception, and his name is Steve Easterbrook, the former CEO of McDonald’s.  He has returned over $105 million equity awards and cast as part of a settlement to resolve misconduct allegations while on the job. 

What cost him nine figures and his reputation?  He was fired from McDonald’s in 2019 after admitting that he exchanged videos and text messages with a former employee.  The relationship was non-physical and consensual, but he ended paying the ultimate price for it. 

Here’s what he said in a statement:

“During my tenure as CEO, I failed at times to uphold McDonald’s values and fulfill certain of my responsibilities as a leader of the company. I apologize to my former co-workers, the board and the company’s franchisees and suppliers for doing so.”

When Easterbrook left, he was able to keep tens of millions in stock, benefits, and compensation because the company was led to believe there were no other issues. 

However, the company received an anonymous tip in July 2020 from an employee who said the former CEO had a sexual relationship with another employee. The company investigated, found that to be true, and an affair with two other women. 

Hence the about-face on the $105 million.

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