There were two big “teams” competing; the “Blue” team and the “Green” team. Justinian was a “Blue” team supporter.
By the end of race 22 for the day the normally passionately divided fans had stopped yelling “Win Blue” or “Win Green”, and had started shouting one word: “NIKA” (victory).
Nika stems from the same root as Nike the name the Greeks gave to their goddess of victory (Roman Victoria). She was often portrayed as a divine charioteer in Greek art.
They Hippodrome race fans also decided it would be nice to crown a new Emperor and so began burning looting, killing, and generally acting badly.
The riots took most of a week, and Justinian held up in his palace and made plans to flee. This gave his wife, Empress Theodora, the opportunity to utter two of the great lines recorded by history:
On her husband’s desire to flee for his life:
“Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss.”
On her own risk of untimely death should she stay:
“Royalty is a fine burial shroud.”
Justinian hatched a plan. He ordered a eunuch to deliver, and distribute, a bag of gold and a message to the “Blue” team captains. The message pointed out that he was a “Blue” supporter, and the man they would crown emperor was a green supporter. The "Blue" supporters laid down their arms, and went home. The disserted “Green” supporters were no match for the emperor’s guards who slaughtered them with impunity.
I suspect that the “Greens” did not do as well at the next chariot races.
“Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are ruined.” – Jeremiah 4:13