Tiger Woods was the first athlete to earn $1 billion during his professional golf career. Boxer Floyd Mayweather and footballer Christiano Ronaldo have also passed that milestone, and basketball genius Michael Jordan will have earned over two billion, thanks to endorsement deals and smart investments.
Who do you think is the highest paid athlete of all time? All the foregoing? Lionel Messi? Serena Williams? James LeBron?
Seven times richer than Jordan
Not far from here. The person who has won the most during his sports career in history is almost forgotten by everyone, because he flexed his muscles a long time ago. His name was Gaius Appuleius Diocles and it is estimated that he earned the equivalent of $15 billion during his career, more than seven times more than Michael Jordan.
And calculate, who trusts each other, this amount in Icelandic kroner.
Gaius was born in 104 BC. AD in Lusitania, present-day Portugal, and started running as a teenager. The territory where his family lived was known throughout the Roman Empire for breeding the best and fastest horses in the world.
Gaius was 18 when he first competed in Rome, something he dreamed of as a child. But he didn’t realize the enormity of the competition in the Empire’s capital, and it took two whole years of blood, sweat and tears before he won his first race.
Gaius was to compete for no less than 24 years, which is a very long time in the difficult sport of chariot racing.
The most mobile of all
He was particularly good at individual races, where a man competed in four-horse chariots, and therefore had to rely entirely on his own abilities and not on his teammates. It was also the most popular competition with the public. Gaius won no less than 1,064 such contests, contests that seriously injured or killed many warriors of the time. After all, little or nothing about security measures and most people didn’t care. There were a lot of people ready to take the reins.
But Gaius was something else, no one had seen anything that came close to the skill Gaius possessed and in fact he could put up almost any amount. It was paid, quietly and silently, to see him compete.
In total, Gaius won 1,462 races out of the 2,900 he entered. And came second in all others.
Didn’t seem nice enough
Rome took sport very seriously and nobles and the general public were willing to pay large sums of money to attend the best competitions. Gaius still broke all records. He became particularly known for holding back his horses, then breaking at the right moment and reaching the finish line, often seconds ahead of his opponent. And audiences loved the thrill.
There are many records of Gaius and his accomplishments, as the Romans kept detailed records of their sporting achievements.
Gaius became so wealthy during his career that one would think he would have been accepted into the rather closed society of the wealthy elite of horse enthusiasts, but that never happened. Namely that he was from a lower class and possibly a slave when he started competing, a slave who managed to buy his freedom. He was respected by the upper class but not good enough to be part of it. He, on the other hand, was loved and admired by the people, a dying hero who reached the greatest heights.
However, Gaius managed to amass far more wealth than the nobles who thought he was not good enough could dream of. The Romans kept detailed tax records and they say he earned the equivalent of $15 billion before retiring at the age of 42.
Gaius then moved to a small town, popular among the wealthy, but did not enjoy the wealth for a long time as he died at the age of just over fifty.
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