The world's highest paid athlete SEP 03 2010
...was a fellow by the name of Gaius Appuleius Diocles. He was a 2nd-century Roman charioteer.
His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period -- enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year. 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.