Sept. 2, 2010 -- During the second century, chariot racers were the sports heroes of their day -- and one in particular had a bankroll that dwarfs the salaries given to modern-day athletes.
The money didn't come without a price, however. Chariot racing was a dangerous sport that could bring serious injury or even death to both the charioteer and the horses themselves.
Experienced charioteers could accumulate vast sums over their careers, however. Peter Struck, associate professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed to an illiterate charioteer named Gaius Appuleius Diocles who earned 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money.
"By today's standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion," wrote Struck.