One day prior to its massive merger with WarnerMedia, Discovery gave its CEO David Zaslav nearly 15 million stock options, which are valued at $190 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A representative for Discovery did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The Journal said the 14.8 million in stock options were part of Zaslav’s new contract, which was announced on Tuesday, one day after the merger announcement.
The deal runs through 2027. Zaslav’s previous contract ran through 2023.
AT&T announced Monday that it was spinning off WarnerMedia into an independent company that will merge with Discovery Inc.
The deal, which is expected to close in mid-2022, is subject to regulatory approval and a vote by Discovery shareholders. It will create an entertainment juggernaut that seeks to rival Netflix and Disney, and put the likes of Warner Bros., CNN, Turner and Discovery’s stable of nonfiction networks under one roof — along with two competing streaming services, Discovery+ and HBO Max. It also combines WarnerMedia’s U.S. sports rights, like the NBA, MLB and March Madness, with Discovery international sports giant Eurosport.
Under Zaslav, Discovery acquired Scripps Networks Interactive in 2018, which added popular lifestyle channels like HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel. With WarnerMedia, Zaslav will be atop one of the largest companies in Hollywood.
Zalsav is one of the highest paid executives in media, pulling in $37.7 million in 2020 (and that was actually down 18% from 2019). Zaslav’s annual salary stayed at $3 million last year, when his stock awards slipped by about $1 million to $12.5 million. His option awards were the biggest difference, however, declining from nearly $7 million in 2019 all the way to nothing.
Zaslav joined Discovery as president and CEO in 2007 following a long tenure with NBCUniversal.