The Richest Athlete in History Lived in Ancient Rome

Posted on Aug 28, 2021      67

The richest athlete in history lived in ancient RomeIn the era of professional sports, the royalties of many stars reach astronomical sums. Fans are probably sure that the richest athletes in the history of mankind live in our time. But, two thousand years ago, there lived Gaius Appuleius Diocles, whose income could be the envy of the highest-paid stars of the twenty-first century.

The Roman charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in 104 AD in the province of Lusitania, most of which is now located in the territory of Potrogalia. As a child, he worked as a simple stable boy, but Gaius had a dream to race chariots. Hippodromes hosted sweepstakes in which gamblers invested fortunes.

Accordingly, the best charioteers made a lot of money, unless, of course, they died during the race or were crippled for life. But the young man was not afraid of it. He was sure that luck would surely smile on him. At the age of eighteen, Gaius Appuley Diocles took part in races for the first time, but he had to wait over two years for his first victory.

As time passed, no chariot racer could match Gaius Appuleius Diocles. During his 24-year career, Gaius took part in 4,257 races with 1,462 victories. He owned another amazing achievement - 134 victories in one year. And the most favorite horse of Guy was Pompeian, with whom he won over 200 times.

And now about the income of the legendary charioteer. To say that he earned well, it means - to say nothing. Every race Gaius Appuley Diocles received, depending on the result, from 20 to 60 thousand sestertseys. The weekly wage of a Roman legionary was 1,000 times less. Even the lawyers, who were considered quite wealthy, lamented their fate, arguing that their fees are a paltry fraction of what the best chariot riders receive, who after each successful performance take away the money in bags.

In twenty-four years, Gaius Appuleius Diocles made an enormous amount of money, 35,863,120 sesterces. How does that compare to modern money? Peter Strack, a professor at the University of Chicago, did a special study comparing second-century and modern prices and concluded that it would have been about $15 billion these days. The same Peter Strack calculated that this money would be enough to feed the entire Roman Empire with bread for a year.

In 2009, American golfer Woods Tiger became the first athlete to make a billion dollars. That said, Woods earned 90% of his income from advertising, not from athletic achievement. But, even he could not surpass the achievement of the legendary charioteer.

The Romans scrupulously kept count of the victories of the most famous riders. According to some reports, another famous charioteer Scorpus won more victories than Gaius. But he died very young, at the age of 27, so he just did not have time to earn as much money as Gaius. Gaius Appulius Diocles died around 146. On his grave, admirers erected a monument that listed in detail all of his merits at the racetrack. This included the amount of prize money, thanks to which this information has been preserved in history.