Golfer Rory McIlroy won more than $15 million USD in 2016, capping the season off with a victory in the Tour Championship and a $10 million USD bonus for taking the FedEx Cup. If he keeps up that pace for many years, he might come close to Circus Maximus charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles, who amassed a fortune of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money -- the equivalent of about $15 billion USD in today's money, according to Peter Struck, a professor of classical studies at the University of Chicago.
“His total take-home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest-paid provincial governors over a similar period,” Struck said.
A champion in a chariot:
- The ancient Roman “champion of all charioteers” made his fortune without the sponsorship and marketing deals that fill the pockets of today’s pro athletes.
- Diocles raced four-horse chariots, and he frequently came from behind to win. He retired at age 42 -- an unusually long career in a sport where charioteers often died young.
- Records show that Diocles won 1,462 out of the 4,257 four-horse races he competed in.