Pressing Beefy Untruths: Pat Robertson Claims Weight-Lifting Record

TV preacher Pat Robertson has either become the strongest man in the world, or he’s been caught telling another whopper.

Robertson, a fitness fanatic who markets his own high-energy health drink, was accused of stretching the truth by online CBS sports columnist Clay Travis May 22.

Travis, noting that he had earlier written about his own efforts to leg-press 400 pounds, wrote in a column that one of his readers had e-mailed to report that Robertson has repeatedly claimed to be able to leg-press 2,000 pounds. Robert­son attributes this amazing ability to his high-protein shake that, until recently, he was selling in General Nutrition Center stores.

The TV preacher’s personal Web site, www.patrobertson.com, blares, “Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds! How does he do it? Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman? One of Pat’s secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.”

Travis pointed out a major flaw with the claim: If Robertson’s assertion is true, it means he has shattered the world record for leg-pressing. As Travis writes, the record is held by Dan Kendra, a former Florida State University quarterback. Kendra leg-pressed 1,335 pounds, but the effort was so strenuous it caused the capillaries in his eyes to burst.

Travis declared “There is no way on earth Robertson, who is 76, leg-presses 2,000 pounds.” He also wrote that he spent about 20 minutes on Robertson’s Web site, finally managing “to find a way to send an e-mail without having to give my credit card information.”

Travis sent a message reading, “I would like to interview Pat Robertson about his leg-press workout and protein shake. If possible, I would like to accompany Pat on his workout where I could help him stack on the 44 different 45-pound plates he would need to attach to leg-press 2,000 pounds…. I look forward to hearing back from you.”

Robertson spokesman Christopher A. Roslan sent Travis a reply insisting that Robertson can leg-press 2,000 pounds. Roslan insisted that Robertson worked his way up to that figure. Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network subsequently aired a video of him leg-pressing 1,000 pounds. Several readers of Travis’ column took issue with the Christian Coalition founder’s claim, noting that he appeared to be cheating.

“But the video we exclusively featured showed Robertson leg pressing 1,000 pounds 10 times while the safety bar was still locked in place,” wrote Travis. “While it may have been an impressive feat for a man of Robertson’s age, it was still at least 1,000 pounds from his claimed leg press. Plenty of readers also took issue with Robertson’s technique – his use of hands to push his legs up and even the amount of weight actually shown in the video and the pictures.”

Travis was not convinced. In an open letter to Robertson, he mocked the televangelist’s claims, writing, “I believe you also qualify for the title of Strongest Man in the History of Mankind. Your strength exceeds even Samson’s – and you’ve always had short hair. Quite an impressive feat indeed.”

Travis challenged Robertson to a “champion’s pentathlon” to consist of five events: a protein shake-chugging contest, a leg press contest, a bench press contest, a spelling Bee and a “painting famous scenes from the Bible on canvas” competition. (Robertson did not reply.)

In the end, Travis’ readers were not persuaded by Robertson’s claims of super-human strength. One online poll asked, “Do you believe Pat Robertson can correctly leg bench press 2,000 pounds?” Eighty-eight percent said no, with only 12 percent saying yes.