A stud from Portugal with an unparalleled winning-record, an athletic Adonis revered across the known world with more money than Midas.
No, we’re not talking about football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, silly.
While the Juventus soccer superstar has earned an admittedly impressive estimated $850million throughout his career (adding a reported $65m to his kitty this year), this purse pales in comparison to a sports icon not from Madeira, but from the mainland.
We are of course talking about Gaius Appuleius Diocles.
The man they reportedly called ‘The Lamecus’ from the region of the Roman Empire now known a Lamego in Portugal has been calculated to have earned a brobdingnagian $15billion across his 24-year career, making him certifiably the best paid athlete of all time.
The second century chariot racer plied his trade for three of the four main Roman teams, first the Whites and then the Greens before moving on to where he enjoyed a long and illustrious career, the Reds.
Having begun his career as a charioteer at the age of 18, Diocles’ winnings went on to total the simply mind-blowing gargantuan sum of 35,863,120 sesterces before retiring at the ripe old age of 42- more impressive when you consider most stars of the sport died in their mid-20s.
As historian Peter T. Stark, Professor and Chair of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania calculated, this would have paid for enough grain for the entire city of Rome for one whole year, and works out to approximately $15billion (£9.6billion) in today’s money. Diocoles, the absolute baller, won 1,462 victories out of the 4,257 four-horse races, and was undoubtedly the star of the Circus Maximus - the grandest of arenas for competitors.
Comparatively, the highest earning athletes in the modern era, with names intrinsically linked to some of the major and most popular sports in the world, can’t hold a candle for Diocles; figures who have become part of the lexicon when they’re talked about in general discussion.
It would take the combined effort of a Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and a David Beckham to even approach half of Diocles’ winnings.
Ancient-Origins.net (picture courtesy of)