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The five highest-paid executives of Northwest public companies posted big numbers for their total compensation last year. In each case, half or more — and sometimes much, much more — of the executive’s pay came in the form of stock.

John Legere, president, CEO and director of Bellevue-based T-Mobile US, was the highest-paid CEO for a Northwest public company last year, with a total pay package of $29.2 million, Equilar data show. But three-quarters of Legere’s pay, or $22.5 million, was in stock-based compensation, which comes with hypothetical values.

Stock and option grants are often pegged to performance and price targets in the future. If the company misses the target, or the stock price sinks, the CEO gets only a fraction of the award — or nothing at all.

Darrell Cavens, president and CEO of zulily, the online clothing retailer based in Seattle, was the second highest-paid CEO, with a total pay package of $27.3 million. Nearly 99 percent of his pay — or $26.9 million — was stock. Cavens took the company public in November.

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Coming in third was Howard Schultz, chairman, president and CEO of Seattle-based Starbucks. His total pay was $17.2 million, and 77 percent of it was stock.

Mark Parker, president and CEO of Portland-based Nike, was fourth with a total pay package of $15.4 million. Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, the online real-estate company based in Seattle, was fifth, with a total pay of $10.5 million. Parker and Rascoff also received at least half of their pay in stock.

Large stock awards are hardly limited to the Northwest’s highest-paid CEOs. The Equilar data show that four out of five Northwest executives were paid with stock. For 44 percent of Northwest public company CEOs, stock was the majority of their pay.

George Erb is a Seattle freelancer.

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