At 7'1", Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominating and amazing basketball player of all time. In his legendary career, Chamberlain 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, Chamberlain also authored four books. None of the others created nearly the stir and controversy as his 1991 book, A View From Above. In it, the basketball great claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women during his life.
A media firestorm erupted, and Chamberlain 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. Meanwhile, feminists resented his blatant sexism for using women in such a manner.
Despite the backlash, Chamberlain never backed down from his claim. He simply stated: "I was just laying it out there for people who were curious."
Chamberlain 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 could he really sleep with 20,000 different women? Let's analyze it.
Doing the Math
If Chamberlain started having sex 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. According to legend, he was 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.
The fact that he said 20,000 different women also leaves little time for repeats, or love. And what about sickness? Everyone gets sick once in a while, which would have cost Chamberlain precious time during those 37 to 40 sexually active years.
But most incredibly, even with those reported 20,000 sexual liaisons, Chamberlain is not known to have contracted any serious sexually transmitted diseases. Nor was there ever a woman who came forward with an unplanned pregnancy or a paternity suit.
And what about turndowns? 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, Chamberlain made the following 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.
Chamberlain died of heart failure in 1999 in Bel-Air, California, at the age of 63.