View Blog Posts About: San Diego in the Spotlight

Monopoly at McDonalds Advertises that San Diego is the Luckiest City


I agree. Watch the new McDonalds video, read my reasons on why San Diego is the luckiest city, and then share your thoughts on why we are the luckiest city in the U.S.

Monopoly at McDonalds

This McDonalds commercial caught my attention over the weekend during the NBC Sunday Night Football Game when I heard ‘San Diego’.

Looks like we’ve got a new resident moving into town because San Diego has the most sweepstakes winners and the fewest lightning strikes. Gotta like those odds. Update: McDonalds took the video off air now that the Monopoly promotion has ended. Basically, the commercial shows two buddies, one of whom is going to move to San Diego because it has the fewest lightning strikes and most sweepstakes winners so he feels he’ll be lucky once he moves to San Diego.

I hadn’t heard about San Diegans having great odds for winning sweepstakes but it doesn’t surprise me based on all the stories I’ve gathered as a tour guide in San Diego, some of which I share below. I’m certainly not surprised we have the fewest lightning strikes because we rarely ever have a lightning storm but don’t let that fool you into thinking most San Diegans know how to stay out of harm’s way. Since it is such a rarity (seems from my experience over the 14 years I’ve lived here that there is maybe one thunderstorm a year that I can at least hear somewhere off in the distance), I’ve seen many people ‘race outside’ to enjoy the rare spectacle.

Why San Diego is the Luckiest City

Here are a few stories about people from San Diego hitting it big with a little luck on their side:

Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia) – The founder of one of the world’s most used web sites is Jimmy Wales. Before Wikipedia’s time, it’s eventual founder Jimmy Wales moved to San Diego and set up a small internet hosting business in Pacific Beach. He had an idea to create an online encylopedia called Nupedia that was being created by experts in their respective academic fields. However, after a lot of time and money being spent on the project, they had little to show for it. That’s when a lucky opportunity struck. Larry Sanger, who was running Nupedia for Jimmy Wales, got together for dinner at the former Mama Mia’s in Pacific Beach with an old friend Ben Kovitz who had just moved to San Diego. Ben started sharing with Larry the new concept called wiki’s. A week later Wikipedia was launched so anyone on the internet could help work on the project and the rest is history.

Jewel – The signer Jewel was living out of a van and performing in a local coffee shop in Pacific Beach before she got discovered. Word about a surfer girl with an amazing voice singing on Thursday nights made its way to a friend of a friend who happened to know someone at Atlantic Records…and again, the rest is history.

Charles Brandes – Charles Brandes, one of the most successful investors in the country and owner of the most expensive home in San Diego County, which the County Assessor initially valued at $60 million before it was challenged, was a young stockbroker in La Jolla when a retired guy walked in the door and offered to mentor him. Who happened to walk in that fateful day when Brandes was in charge of handling the walk-ins? Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet’s mentor, who had just moved to La Jolla to enjoy his retirement.

There are many interesting people in San Diego who have had fortuitous opportunities. What are your stories about lucky San Diegans?

Bill Clinton Praises San Diego Biotech Industry as Model for Creating Jobs


I love it when San Diego gets praise at a national level. On the Sunday ABC News show ‘This Week with Christiane Amanpour‘, former President Bill Clinton cited San Diego as a model for the country, and in particular Washington, where cooperation among various groups leads to job creation and a strong economy.

Here’s a brief excerpt of what he said:

“There are places all over America, believe it or not, that have low unemployment, high growth, strong home prices, jobs being created, a shortage of skilled workers and in every one of those places they have networks of cooperation. San Diego’s got the largest concentration of Nobel Prize scientists in America. It has become the biotech center of the country.”

During my La Jolla Sightseeing Tour, we pass through Torrey Pines Mesa, which local boosters refer to as ‘Biotech Beach’. I make mention of the Nobel Prize winners and thousands of Ph.D’s that work at the research institutes and at UCSD. The area is also home to several research and development labs for major pharmaceutical companies and it is surrounded by hundreds of biotech companies.

Road to the CureYou can get the ‘cliff notes’ description for several institutes on Torrey Pines Mesa from earlier blog posts, that have been among my most popular pages in recent years.

General Colin Powell Loves San Diego


Yesterday, Colin Powell was in town and spoke about why he loves San Diego.

He shared a story about taking NATO Generals and Russian military leaders on a tour of the United States.

When he would take them to a missile silo, his guests, particularly the Russians, would say, “Yep, we’ve got those”.

When he would take them to see a factory that builds M1 Tanks, they would say, “Yep, they look a lot like the tanks we build in our factories”.

When he would take them to see a nuclear submarine, their response was, “Yep, we’ve got those too”.

Getting a little annoyed about not leaving much of an impression on his guests, he figured he had to bring them to San Diego.


Because they certainly don’t have a San Diego and the type of community that wholeheartedly supports the members of its military.


America’s Cup Contender Stuck On San Diego


The old adage that visitors come to San Diego for vacation and end up staying for a lifetime held true for one of San Diego’s more noticeable visitors the past year.

In the fall of 2008, I wrote a post about the arrival of BMW Oracle Racing for six weeks of training on San Diego Bay.  BMW Oracle is the contender for the 2010 America’s Cup. Their boats were docked behind the Convention Center and could be seen gliding effortlessly past pleasure boats and aircraft carriers through the San Diego Harbor and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Those six weeks of initial training in San Diego turned into six months and then much longer. Their experience in San Diego was summed up in a ‘Thank You San Diego’ advertisement in this past Sunday’s Union Tribune. To quote, “We came for 6 weeks and stayed for 16 months. The sailing conditions were perfect and your hospitality was even better.”


Another satisfied visitor to San Diego. For those who have not been to San Diego, come find why San Diego is a place where people come to vacation and fall in love for a lifetime.

The last American team to win the America’s Cup was the San Diego Yacht Club’s America3 team in 1992. Plan on the San Diego spirit of that  team to be carried forward by today’s BMW Oracle Racing team to victory in February when they take on the Swiss.

Good Luck BMW Oracle! San Diego will be cheering for you!

Red Bull Air Race Only U.S. Stop Is In San Diego May 9-10


What do Barcelona, Budapest and Abu Dhabi have in common with San Diego? They are each, one of just six cities around the globe where you can watch the world’s best pilots perform aerobatic maneuvers as they compete in the Red Bull Air Races.

Red Bull Air Race Introduction

Fifteen pilots will be competing through an obstacle course at up to 250 mph over the San Diego Bay, between the Embarcadero (south of Seaport Village) and Coronado.

The three pilots from the U.S.A. are Mike Mangold, Kirby Chambliss, and Michael Goulian. Mangold was the  2007 Red Bull World Series Champion, while Chambliss was the 2006 Champion. However, both got off to a rocky start at the first race of this season in Abu Dhabi.

The planes arrived in San Diego last week on a 747. I got a nice up-close view of them being off-loaded from the 747 when I took a tour of Lindbergh Field on Friday. It won’t be long before we see them being put through their maneuvers in the skies over San Diego as the pilots prepare for the races.

San Diego Red Bull Air Races Preview

Two qualifying rounds take place on Saturday May 9th with the top qualifier earning a point towards the World Series Standings. The Wild Card round, Top 12, Super 8, and Final Round take place on Sunday, May 10th. You will get to see planes navigate the course about 30 times each day.

San Diego Red Bull Air Race Tickets can be purchased online. Ticket prices start at $20 ($10 for children and military) for spectator viewing and range up to $1,360 for VIP treatment at a High Flyers Lounge. This year, both spectator and special seating areas will be set up on the Embarcadero side of San Diego Bay. You can also buy a parking pass for Brown Field to see the planes up close on Saturday night.

This is the 5th year for the Red Bull Air Races and the 3rd for San Diego. Take advantage of our unique opportunity to see these flying aces with our own eyes. This will be the only stop in the United States this year.

If you can’t make it down to Red Bull’s San Diego Air Race, which will be broadcast around the world, you can catch a tape of it on Fox Sports Network sometime in September.

On a side note, you might be inclined to use the word ‘acrobatic’ when describing the amazing air maneuvers being performed by the pilots. However, the precision and skills of these great pilots are known as ‘aerobatic’ stunts.

San Diego Crowds Help Make Cycling History


Great job San Diego!  Our outpouring of support for the Tour of California, which was seen around the world, made this the number one stage race for attendance in U.S. Pro Cycling history. The massive crowds that lined the entire 97 mile route from Rancho Bernardo over Palomar Mountain to the Finish Line in Escondido made up for the lack of crowds in Northern California, which was due to heavy rains during the first days of the nine-day race, and brought the estimated race attendance total to 2 million spectators.

Whenever I watched the Tour de France, I always got a good chuckle from crazy costumes some spectators wore as they ran alongside of the racing cyclists. (I’d also be petrified that one of the loonies would knock over the cyclists.) It turns out San Diego has its fair share of loonies looking to be seen on TV around the world.  The costumes ranged from sumo wrestlers to birthday suits but the one that stood out most for me was the guy wearing four-foot tall antlers on his head. He did a pretty good job sprinting alongside the cyclists as they reached the highest peak ever for the Tour of California. It was very cool to see a few inches of snow along the side of the road on Palomar despite temperatures being in the low 70′s at the bottom of the mountain.

Speaking of Palomar, in a post last week, I mentioned Lance Armstrong compared the climb of Palomar to the venerable Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France. Tonight, the editor-in-chief of Bicycling Magazine who wrote Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France with Floyd Landis, spoke with Jim Lasovic from NBC 7/39, and noted that Landis calls Palomar Mountain the best mountain for cycling in the world. (So, there you have it, two of the cycling world’s best riders praising our own Palomar Mountain.)

Not only is Palomar Mountain one of the best mountains for cycling in the world, but Bicycling Magazine rates San Diego as the #1 City for Cycling.

San Diego received great worldwide publicity from today’s final stage of the Tour of California. The TV coverage on Versus provided an overhead view of San Diego’s Wild Animal Park and continually made remarks about the big crowds that stayed well after the race had finished. Even one of the Versus analysts noted he is heading to the San Diego Zoo tomorrow.

I am so glad San Diegans made this event a huge success for our community. Let’s hope this  encourages the Amgen Tour of California officials to include San Diego once again in next year’s race!

(By the way, for those who saw the race on TV, if you were curious to know why the guy wearing the antlers had a Montana jersey, it was to cheer on the eventual Tour of California Winner, Levi Leipheimer, who is from Montana.)

If you have photos from today’s stage you want to share with others, let me know using the comments below and I’ll add them to this post!