Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have slept with 20,000 women during his life. In the book "Wilt: Larger Than Life," Rod Roddewig, a contemporary of Wilt’s, shared a story about how the legendary basketball player came up with that number.
The aftermath of Wilt's twenty-thousand women passage
When Chamberlain revealed the number of women he had slept with, the public perception of the basketball great changed. People started calling him names, expressing pity for his lifestyle that turned him into "a reference for sexual braggadocio." But according to Wilt, that wasn't his intent.
I’m not boasting. I don’t see all this lovemaking as any kind of conquest. The point of using the number [twenty thousand] was to show that sex was a great part of my life as basketball was a great part of my life. That’s the reason I was single.
Wilt Chamberlain, Wilt: Larger Than Life
A little over a month after Chamberlain's book, "A View From Above,"saw the light of day, Earvin Magic Johnson, another prominent black athlete, shocked the world after announcing he was HIV positive. The public lumped two superstars together, condemning them for their publicized promiscuity.
However, Wilt's family and friends stayed on his side, saying "the passage was a throwaway line that Wilt inserted to create publicity for the book." They also blamed the publisher for manipulating Wilt into including it.
How Wilt came up with the number 20,000
Whatever the case, The Big Dipper openly admitted that sex played an important role in his life. He loved being around women, and was always a true gentleman, handing out compliments left and right.
"He would stop in the middle of a conversation if a pretty woman walked by," Chamberlain's friend Fluke Fluker said."He would either look at her or make a comment to the people he was talking to. And it wasn’t a gross or vulgar or disrespectful comment. Or he’d call the woman over and compliment her on her looks, in a nice, respectful way. He’d say, “I just want you to know you’re looking very beautiful today. And I wanted to make sure someone told you that.”
Rod Roddewing, another contemporary of Wilt's, testified to his chivalry. He met the NBA superstar before moving to Hawaii in the mid-eighties. He was also there when Chamberlain came up with his infamous twenty-thousand women story when the two spent time at Wilt's penthouse in Honolulu.
"We were there for 10 days. I wrote everything down in my Daytimer," Roddewig said. "Every time he would go to bed with a different girl, I would put a check in my book. After 10 days there were 23 checks. That’s 2.3 girls per day. He took 2.3 and divided it in half, to be conservative. Then deducted 15 from his current age, multiplied that by 1.2 women per day, and that’s how he came up with twenty thousand."
Wilt's sexual prowess raised questions about his influence as a public person. But what most people characterized as a boasting attempt, Chamberlain himself described as a deeper insight into his life, one in which sex played a huge role. That's something the Hall of Famer never denied, regardless of the aftermath of his infamous twenty-thousand passage.