WTF Fun Fact 12561 – Maureen O’Conner’s Big Bets

Maureen O’Connor was the first female mayor of San Diego, California, from 1986 to 1992. When her husband, Robert O. Paterson, founder of the fast-food chain Jack in the Box, passed away in 1994, she inherited his entire $50 million fortune since the couple had no children.

But O’Conner still ended up in debt. Specifically, it was gambling debt, but her addiction wasn’t something she could control.

Doctors determined that the grief brought on by her husband’s death and a brain tumor had changed her personality, allowing her to get hooked on video poker.

It turns out you can win and lose quite a bit of money by playing poker online. O’Conner’s “grief gambling” did bring her over $1 billion (yes, with a B) worth of good luck and winnings over the course of a decade. However, she lost so much that she wiped out her winnings AND her inherited fortune.

In the end, she was worth negative $13 million.

It was more than she could pay off, so O’Conner turned to money laundering and was convicted of the crime in 2013 after taking money from her late husband’s non-profit to cover the gambling debts.

She was given a deferred sentence and served no jail time under the health circumstances, but she was completely broke after paying court costs and restitution.

If you do the math, she would have needed to wager roughly $300,000 a day, seven days a week, to lose as much money as she did in such as short period of time. And yet she’s far from the biggest loser when it comes to gambling.

According to the New York Times in 2013, “Terry Watanabe, a businessman, lost more than $205 million in Las Vegas, including more than $120 million in 2007 alone. The British media mogul Robert Maxwell once lost £1.5 million, about $2.3 million, in less than three minutes at a London casino.” – WTF fun facts

Source: “San Diego Ex-Mayor Confronts $1 Billion Gambling Problem” — The New York Times

WTF Fun Fact 12418 – FedEx’s Luck

Federal Express (now known as FedEx) was the first overnight delivery company. It was founded by Frederick Smith and based on an economics paper he wrote as a student at Yale. The term paper was written in the 1960s, but it argued that the world needed a way to deliver packages overnight in the new, computerized age of information. As Smith recalls, he got a “C” because his professor found the idea implausible.

But what’s even more implausible-yet-true is how FedEx survived in its early days while running a fleet of airplanes as gas prices skyrocketed. Smith had initially funded the company with his $4 million inheritance along with $80 million in loans and equity investments (in other words, it was no small start-up in his parents’ garage). However, those eight planes covering 35 cities drove the company into debt.

Smith tried to raise more funding but failed. The company’s funds reached a paltry $5,000 – not even enough to gas the planes and pay the pilots. Faced with potential ruin, Fred Smith made a questionable decision. Without consulting his partners, he took the company’s remaining money, hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, and headed to a casino to play blackjack.

When he returned to headquarters the next week, he had turned the $5,000 into $27,000. That wasn’t enough to keep things afloat for long, but they could stay open another week and had new motivation to keep trying for another round of funding.

In the book “Changing How the World Does Business: FedEx’s Incredible Journey to Success” former FedEx senior vice president of operations Roger Frock recalled his reaction to Smith’s antics: “I said, ‘You mean you took our last $5,000 — how could you do that? [Smith] shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘What difference does it make? Without the funds for the fuel companies, we couldn’t have flown anyway.'”

Soon after, FedEx got another injection of funding to the tune of $11 million, which helped stabilize the company and allow Smith to start a direct mail advertising campaign. The company took years to become profitable, but in 1976 it brought in $3.6 million. After going public a few years later, the company became a long-term success.

Of course, we can’t help but wonder about the professor who gave Smith a “C” on his economics paper at Yale. Was he right in thinking that it wasn’t really a viable business idea (after all, it took some serious luck to make it happen)? – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “The Founder Of FedEx Saved The Company From Bankruptcy With His Blackjack Winnings” — Business Insider

wining the lottery

In 2002

In 2002, a 19 years old garbage man won $15 million lottery, spent it all on drugs, gambling, and prostitutes. Now he’s a garbage man again.