Yuletide undoubtedly came early for the 198 employees of a Baltimore real estate developer after they were gifted a $10 million holiday bonus, with each employee receiving an average of $50,000 cheque.

St. John Properties, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the Mid-Atlantic, currently worth $3.5 billion, announced the bonus during a recently held holiday party in Baltimore.

Edward St. John, founder and chairman of the company, said the amount each employee will receive depends on tenure but most will take home an average of around $50,000.

“To celebrate the achievement of our goal, we wanted to reward our employees in a big way that would make a significant impact on their lives,” he said.

“I am thankful for every one of our employees, for their hard work and dedication. I couldn’t think of a better way to show it.”

A clip making the rounds showed some employees opening envelopes containing cheques through which their different cuts of the largesse were handed out as many others screamed and clutched at their mouths in disbelief.

John said the bonus comes as a reward to its employees because they helped to hit a milestone in the portfolio, developing a 20 million square feet of office, retail and warehouse space across in eight states.

The 81-year-old billionaire said he thought it would take nearly 40 years to reach his goal but instead it only took 14.

“I wanted to celebrate it and make it meaningful for the people who did it,” John said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I steer the boat but they are the ones that run the boat.”

Danielle Valenzia, an accounts payable specialist who has been in the company for 19 years, described the gesture as  “life-changing, really amazing, and so generous.”

“I still haven’t absorbed it,” Nikki Goode, director of taxation, said in the company video. “I’m shocked, very thankful.”



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