A headline I recently saw said that Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs received only $1 in salary for his services during 2004. I immediately thought that perhaps this is why Mr. Jobs is often wearing jeans during big media events. After paying living expenses for a whole year, it would be hard to have much left out of that buck to buy a suit.

Being somewhat suspicious, though, I had a hunch that there may be more here than the headline was letting on, so I decided to dig through the just-released 2005 Apple proxy statement to find out for sure.

The proxy is a document that public companies release once per year that includes all sorts of juicy details that many companies hope you won't bother to read about -- like executive compensation.

I found that Apple's proxy document had plenty of information regarding Steve Jobs' past compensation. It wasn't just 2004 in which Jobs was paid only a single measly greenback in salary. This happened in each of the years 1999 through 2004. (I wonder whether he receives that dollar in one lump payment or in 26 biweekly payments of about 3.85 cents each.)

The proxy shows that being CEO of Apple isn't such a bad deal after all, though. One nice little bonus was a Gulfstream jet, worth about $90 million, that was delivered in 2001. These are very nice aircraft, and I highly recommend that you consider buying one, but it's hard to understand how a person who earns only $1 per year can afford to operate it in this time of $50+ oil. Quite a conundrum.

So, I looked some more.

Ah, here we go! In 2003 Jobs was given 10 million shares of restricted stock with a value listed at $74,750,000. Not a bad gift, I would say, and it must be worth much more than that now. I guess we don't have to worry about Jobs' jet being grounded any time soon.

It is pretty obvious that Jobs' compensation is lumpier than my mashed potatoes. Luckily, Apple is just a part-time gig for Mr. Jobs; he also works as CEO of Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR), which must help with any short-term cash flow problems. Nevertheless, a less misleading headline may be "Jobs received more than $160 million during the last four years at Apple -- but only one dollar of it in 2004."

And the lesson here for investors is to always dig deeper than a headline and to check out the proxy statements for the companies you own.

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Fool contributor Dan Bloom doesn't own shares of any stock mentioned in this article.