There is much discussion about today’s highly paid athletes, be they football stars or Olympic competitors. According to Forbes, the top five highest-paid athletes in 2016 were Cristiano Ronaldo ($88 million), Lionel Messi ($81.4 million), LeBron James ($77.2 million), Roger Federer ($67.8 million), and Kevin Durant ($56.2 million). Yet to history’s highest paid athlete, these figures are a pittance. Even the few sports stars that have managed to break $1 billion in total revenues, such as Tiger Woods, cannot compete with the highest paid athlete of all time – Gaius Appuleius Diocles, a Roman charioteer who reportedly earned over $15 billion in today’s dollars.
A Rising Star
Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in approximately 104 A.D in Lamecum, the capital city of Lusitania, province of Emerita Augusta (modern-day Portugal). His father owned a small-time transport business and the family was comparatively well off. Diocles is believed to have started racing at the age of 18 in Ilerda (modern-day Catalonia) and quickly gained a reputation good enough to get himself called up to the ‘big leagues’ in Rome. Known there as the Lamecus, Diocles brought considerable renown to his hometown.
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