Looking back, Price insists it wasn't. But he also knows the experiment was, at least in part, a deliberate business move.
"It's not like I'm throwing money into a charity and having no hope of return," he told TODAY recently by phone. "I view this as a long-term investment."
A 'Happier' Workplace
Since the initial pay hike, there's been a baby boom at the office, and Gravity Payments, based in Seattle, has seen increased retention and happiness rates (the latter is measured by an online-survey service employees use) among workers. Their overall commute time is shorter, since some employees used the additional money to move closer to work.
A graph shows how turnover rates are at an all-time low at the company.
Price himself made some cutbacks to adjust to the lower salary, although more out of sensibility than necessity. He now rents his house on Airbnb during the summer to make extra cash, and sleeps in the guest room at a friend's house.
"You might call it a sacrifice," he said, speaking from the borrowed room. "But to me, it's fun. It feels good."
A Temporary Pay Cut
Price is quick to state the obvious: that any life adjustments he's made as a result of earning less after earning so much more are hardly "putting me in some horrible, awful position."
Of course, even as he's emerged as a champion for income equality, he won't be making $70,000 forever, and that was never the plan.
"When I made the announcement, I said I would just put my salary back where it was once the company's profits had gone back to where they were," Price said. "I expected us to take a big step backwards."
But that's not what happened. Instead, sales skyrocketed after the announcement, and Gravity Payments continues to take on new clients at a rate it never had before. It reports nearly doubling profits in a year, from $3.5 million in 2014 to $6.5 million in 2015. So Price is re-evaluating the metrics, and still trying to decide what his income should look like.
The million-dollar-plus salary Price once earned, and presumably will again, has often been scrutinized, even amid praise for his wage hike, which he refers to as "the program." It was also at least partly to blame for his legal troubles with his brother, Lucas Price, with whom he co-founded Gravity Payments in 2004. Price recently won a court battle against Lucas, who'd claimed in a lawsuit that Price overpaid himself and abused a corporate spending account, according to reports