08/14/2008 05:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

America's 50 Richest Paydays: Who, What, and How Much

You won't find Oprah Winfrey on the list. Nor will you find the legion of hedge-fund managers who routinely collect hundreds of millions in any given year. That's because they're all just getting paid to do their day jobs. This is a list of people who enjoyed windfalls thanks to large transactions: stock cash-outs, I.P.O.'s, sales of companies, real-estate deals--even inheritances. Here are the 50 players (and one lucky canine) whose bottom lines got the biggest boost last year.

1. BILL GATES: $2.8 billion

The world's richest man downloaded $2.5 billion worth of Microsoft stock last year. Throw in a few hundred million dollars in dividend income and his impending retirement will be all the more comfortable.

2. PETE PETERSON: $1.9 billion

Peterson cashed out big-time in the Blackstone I.P.O. He intends to give a substantial portion of the proceeds to charity.

3. CHANDLER FAMILY: $1.7 billion

Seven years after selling Times Mirror (publisher of the Los Angeles Times) to Tribune Co. for stock, the forlorn newspaper clan pushed for the sale of Tribune to investor Sam Zell--this time for cash.

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