Former San Diego Mayor Gambles Away Jack in the Box Fortune

When most people think about the practically ubiquitous west coast fast food chain Jack in the Box, late night-drive through runs and their bobble-headed mascot are more likely to come to mind than years-long gambling benders. But, in an interesting revelation, the widow of the founder of the restaurant chain and the former mayor of San Diego, Maureen O’Connor, is said to have gambled away the fortune her husband amassed slinging hamburgers and deep-fried egg rolls.

Just how much money did O’Connor lose gambling in casinos? The New York Times has reported that over the course of a decade, O’Connor placed $1 billion worth of bets in casinos all across the United States. Her game of choice was said to be video poker.

O’Connor served as the mayor of San Diego, a Southern California city noted more for its nearly perfect year-round weather, large military population, and conservative politics than it is for gambling, from 1986 until 1992. After her husband, Robert O. Peterson, passed away in 1994, O’Connor developed a gambling addiction that went largely unnoticed by friends, who knew she enjoyed visiting casinos but were unaware of the extent of her problems. O’Connor said that her gambling addiction was further complicated by a brain tumor.

“There are two Maureens — Maureen No. 1 and Maureen No. 2,” O’Connor told reporters at a press conference. “Maureen No. 2 is the Maureen who did not know she had a tumor growing in her brain.”

O’Connor appeared in a courtroom this week to confront charges that she stole over $2 million from a charitable foundation set up by her late husband. O’Connor liquidated many of her assets to fuel her gambling addiction, including selling off luxurious real estate properties, parting with personal items at auctions, and soliciting loans from friends only to rack up huge losses at casinos in Nevada, New Jersey, as well as in the San Diego area. O’Connor says she lost $13 million.

She has vowed to repay her husband’s foundation, having said she never intended to cause harm to her home city. Though she is accused of no malfeasance during the period in which she served as San Diego’s mayor, the theft of the money from the foundation has certainly impacted its ability to assist local charitable work.

“Those of you who know me here would know that I never meant to hurt the city that I love,” said O’Connor. “I always intended to pay it back and I still intend to pay it back.”

Under the terms of a deal with prosecutors, struck largely because of the ill state of her health, O’Connor must repay the funds she took from the foundation as well as undergo gambling addiction counseling.

According to The Times, in order for O’Connor to place the staggering $1 billion in wagers she claims, she would have had to been placing bets valuing $300,000 every single day of the week. And while $13 million seems like an astonishing amount of money to gamble away, O’Connor is far from holding the record for being the world’s most losing gambler – that title goes to businessman Terry Watanabe, who has lost some $205 million placing bets in Las Vegas.


About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

Leave a Reply

Related Articles