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How much do you earn? Not as much as some!

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What do Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James have in common?

Apart from being the three highest paid sportsmen on the planet, their mammoth salary seem like peanuts compared to Gaius Appuleius Diocles, the slave-turned-chariot racer whose lifetimes earning were the equivalent of a staggering £9.42 billion, according to researchers.

This seems even more incredible when you consider that the illiterate Diocles earned roughly two and a half times per year more than than Mayweather, Ronaldo and James’ have earned in 2014 combined. Mayweather, the highest earning sportman today, earned a measly £65 million in 2014, in comparison to Diocles’ £396 million each year.

Not even Ronaldo’s £49.6 million in 2014 compares to Diocles.


During his career, the Ancient Roman charioteer earned the vast majority of his wealth through prize money, contrasting with most modern sportsmen who earn their mega-bucks through endorsement deals and sponsorship in addition to their direct earnings from sport. Tiger Woods, for example, earns £3.8 million from golf, but £34 million from all of his endorsements combined. A similar story is also true of Roger Federer, with the Swiss only earning £2.6 million through tennis, compared to his £32 million he earns from his various endorsements.

Professor Peter Stuck, the Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said:

“The modern sporting spectacles we manage to stage—and on occasion be appalled by—pale by comparison to the common entertainments of Rome.”


The 24 years of winning earned Diocles the handsome sum of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money – nearly £10 billion by today’s standards. For each race, his total take home pay was the equivalent of five times the highest earning provincial governors, enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for a year, or to pay for all of the ordinary soldiers of the Roman army at the height of its powers for two and a half months.

Despite the staggering amount earned by Diocles, this might be a fair reward when you consider the high risks of a grizzly death and a violent bloodbath as the competitors turn on each other in the aggressive seven-lap races. Those that managed to finish in the top three, despite the treacherous conditions, took home the prizes.

Sandeep Cheryian

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