The chairman of JD Sports has said that shareholders "may well" vote against the £4.3m bonus that the company is set to award him despite taking UK government support to furlough its staff.
Peter Cowgill defended the payout, saying he had only received one long-term incentive payout in eight years.
Mr Cowgill said that shareholders could decide to vote against the bonus, something that advisory group Glass Lewis recommended in a recent report.
"They may well do that, but I'm just saying why would you when the company has progressed?" Mr Cowgill said.
He shot back at comparisons to non-essential retailers such as Primark, who have paid back the money they claimed to keep staff on furlough.
"As we speak today we're under pressure on the online. The online is a very small proportion of our income, the online in Asos is 100% of their income, so to compare them is absolutely ridiculous," he said.
He said that Primark, which is owned by AB Foods, gets a lot of its money from selling essential goods.
The furlough scheme was designed to ensure that companies did not lay off workers during the pandemic while their businesses were forced to close.
The Government has paid out more than £65 billion to support the scheme, which covered up to 80% of the salaries of furloughed workers.
Around £86m of this went to JD Sports employees.
He said the company used the money to retain employment, adding that it did not make any redundancies.