Gaius Appuleius Diocles Is The Highest Paid Athlete Of All Time Earning More Than $15B
When thinking about the best paid athletes of all time, one would be forgiven if the first names that come to mind are modern day stars: Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Floyd Mayweather and so forth.
It is only natural to assume that as people have gotten richer, we would inevitably end up paying more to the biggest names in sports.
Interestingly enough, though, the paydays of today’s most high-powered athletes pale in comparison to those the charioteers of Rome.
As noted by Ancient Origins, the best paid athlete of all time is in fact a gentleman named Gaius Appuleius Diocles.
Diocles, a chariot racer, reportedly earned 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money over the course of his illustrious 24-year career. Converting sesterces to dollars is no easy task, but Lapham’s Quarterly was able to break it down:
“His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period—enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year. By today’s standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion.”
What exactly were these chariot races like? Well, they would rival the spectacle of any modern day football match – regardless of whether you take into account what Americans consider football or what the rest of the world considers football.
Fans would apparently arrive the night before the races were set to take place so that they could ensure good seating. They then ate, drank and cheered on their favorite racers.
The drivers themselves would be part of teams that were sponsored by local businesses. These businesses would pay for things like maintaining the horses and new uniforms.
The racers would wear leather helmets, chest protectors and shin guards. They would carry with them one whip and one curved knife (so that they could cut themselves loose if they ever got tangled in the reins after an accident).
The matches commenced with the drop of a napkin and would carry on for seven laps. The top three finishers after those seven laps would take home prizes.
When Diocles finally retired, at the age of 42, his fans dubbed him as “champion of all charioteers.”