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Did Wilt Chamberlain Really Sleep With 20,000 Women?

Wilt Chamberlain was born on this date in 1936. Let’s check his math on his most famous statistic.

Wilt Chamberlain, at 7’1″, may have been the most dominating and amazing basketball player of all time. In his legendary career, Wilt scored 31,419 points, including the unbelievable time he actually scored 100 points in one game. He holds dozens of unbreakable basketball records.

In addition to his accomplishments on the court, Wilt also authored four books. None of the others created nearly the stir and controversy as his 1991 book, A View From Above. In it, Wilt claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women in his life.

A media firestorm erupted, and Wilt was attacked from all sides. The country was at the height of the AIDS crisis, and activists criticized Wilt for his promiscuity. He also came under fire in African-American circles for promoting black racial stereotypes. And feminists resented his blatant sexism for using women in such a manner.

To Wilt’s credit (I guess), he never once backed down from his claim, never said he was just “bragging” or “stretching the truth.” He simply stated: “I was just laying it out there for people who were curious.”

Also to his credit, Wilt was emphatic that he never went to bed with a married woman. “I was just doing what was natural — chasing good-looking ladies, whoever they were and wherever they were.”

But did he really sleep with 20,000 different women? Let’s analyze it…

The math…

If Wilt started at the age of 15, from then up to the age of 55 (when the book was published) he would have had 40 years to sleep with 20,000 women, or 500 different women a year–easy math.

That works out to roughly 1.4 women a day.

According to close friends, Wilt loved threesomes. He was also intimate with 23 different women on one 10-day road trip. Wilt was also a lifelong insomniac, sometimes just not sleeping at all. He probably would take a woman to bed any time he couldn’t fall asleep.

But the time factor is an interesting point. A close childhood friend, Tom Fitzhugh, said, “I don’t remember him having a date. He was probably a virgin when he left high school.” So let us assume Wilt really started around the age of 18, which ups the average to 1.5 women per day for 37 years.

Additionally, he did have a six-month schedule, for 14 seasons, of playing professional basketball. That’s 82 games a season, not including playoffs, exhibitions, practices, and travel time.
Retouched image by Wikimedia user JoeJohnson2

The fact that he said 20,000 different women also leaves little time for repeats, or love. In other words, in all those years, Wilt apparently never had one woman with whom he fell in love or even just wanted to see again.

And what about sickness? Everyone gets sick once in a while, which would have cost Wilt precious time during those 37-40 sexually active years.

But most incredibly, even with those reported 20,000 sexual liaisons, Wilt is not known to have contracted any serious sexually transmitted diseases. Nor was there ever a woman who came forward with an unplanned pregnancy, a “little Wilt,” or a paternity suit.

And what about turn-downs? Every guy in human history has been turned down by a woman at some point. One can only wonder at Wilt’s rejections… probably extremely few, to manage that 20,000 record!

In a 1999 interview, shortly before he died, Wilt made the following touching (and revealing) statement:

“Having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I’ve learned in my life. I’ve (also) found out that having one woman a thousand different times is more satisfying.”

So perhaps he made time for repeats after all.

The great Wilt Chamberlain died of heart failure in 1999 in the city of Bel Air, California, at the age of 63.

As a sidebar, Wilt was a huge hero of mine–my supreme basketball hero, as a kid and to this day. I wore Wilt’s number 13 on my jersey as I ineptly played for my synagogue’s basketball team. (I scored 18 points in 18 games, a nifty 1.0 scoring average.)

Many years later, I met “Wilt the Stilt” at a book-signing for the infamous A View From Above, and I even got to shake his hand. It was, far and away, the biggest hand I have ever seen (or shaken). He didn’t just shake my hand–he engulfed it!


Eddie Deezen has appeared in over 30 motion pictures, including Grease, WarGames, 1941, and The Polar Express. He’s also been featured in several TV shows, including Magnum PI, The Facts of Life, and The Gong Show. And he’s done thousands of voice-overs for radio and cartoons, such as Dexter’s Laboratory and Family Guy.

Read all Eddie’s mental_floss stories.

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Date
August 21st, 2012

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Stranger to the World

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