20. Nero, the Unsurpassed Olympics Champion
After the Romans conquered Greece, they fell madly in love with all things having to do with all things Greek. To curry favor with their new masters, the Greeks modified the Olympic Games rules to allow Romans to compete as well. Nero had dreamt since childhood of becoming an Olympics champion. So he arranged for the Olympic Games to be delayed for two years until he could visit Greece. The emperor competed in chariot racing, and his competitors did their best to throw the race by deliberately slowing down. Despite that, Nero failed to reach the finish line because he crashed and wrecked his chariot.
The judges, in a combination of a sycophancy coupled with fear of an unstable man who could have them crucified with a snap of his fingers, awarded him the victor’s wreath anyhow. They justified that on the specious argument that he would have won, but for the crash. They also awarded him victor’s wreaths for every event in which he competed, for events in which he did not compete, and for events that were not part of the Olympic competition, such as singing and lyre playing. A pleased Nero showered Olympia and the entire surrounding region with rewards, and awarded the judges Roman citizenship and large sums of money.