There are those who want to be like Michael Jordan, but after considering some executive salaries some folks might want to be more like Sandy.

According to Forbes magazine, Sanford I. Weill, the chief executive of the Travelers Group and future co-chairman of Citigroup, made almost $228 million in 1997. That's nearly three times what Forbes said Jordan of the Chicago Bulls made last year, by comparison a paltry $78 million.Weill, as recorded in Forbes' May 18 issue, tops a list of last year's 800 best-paid American CEOs, based upon salary, bonus, gains from exercising options and other remuneration.

Jordan would have been No. 5 if he were a CEO instead of a one-man product-endorsement and restaurant franchise.

But Weill is topped in other categories. For instance, filmmaker Stephen Spielberg made about $283 million last year, putting him at the apex of Forbes Top 40.

Somehow, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn't make the list but they remained the No. 1 and No. 2 wealthiest Americans by owning stock, with Gates' holdings appreciating by $22 billion last year. Microsoft's CEO had stock worth $49.50 billion - and a paycheck of $2.5 million - while Berkshire Hathaway's Buffett owned stock worth $36.55 billion and was paid $500,000.

By comparison, there are only two billionaires within the top 25 on the list. As Forbes said in the magazine: "In a capitalistic society, the biggest rewards go to capitalists, not to managers."



The Forbes list of nation's Top 10 executive salaries

1. Sanford I. Weill, Travelers Group, $227.6 million

2. Stephen C. Hilbert, Conseco, $124.6 million

3. Richard M. Scrushy, HealthSouth, $106.8 million

4. Ray R. Irani, Occidental Petroleum, $104.5 million

5. Lawrence A. Bossidy, Allied Signal, $57.5 million

6. Andrew S. Grove, Intel, $52.6 million

7. Charles W. McCall, HBO & Co., $52.1 million

8. Robert B. Shapiro, Monsanto, $51.8 million

9. Philip J. Purcell, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co., $47.7 million

10. Henry R. Silverman, Cendant, $44.1 million