Houston mattress maven Jim McIngvale made a quick trip to FanDuel’s operations at the Meadowlands racetrack, dropped $1.5 million on his Astros, and then quickly headed out.
This was no sucker bet. McIngvale is hedging against himself.
McIngvale, the popular owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, ran a promotion recently in which customers who spent at least $3,000 get a full refund if the local baseball team wins the World Series. He said he had about $15 million in liability and was doing everything he could to balance the scales.
“I like doing these kind of promotions for the customers," McIngvale told The Inquirer. “Let’s face it: It’s kind of mundane selling mattresses. This makes it more exciting.”
Veteran gambling sports writer Patrick Everson first reported that “Mattress Mack,” as McIngvale is known down yonder, has bet more than $5 million on his Astros to win the World Series.
McIngvale put $3.5 million down on Wednesday in Mississippi in addition to the $240,000 he placed in Nevada. Without an entourage or much fanfare, McIngvale put $1.5 mil down using the FanDuel sportsbetting app Thursday. That bet alone would win $3.3 million.
He said a similar promotion in 2014 for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl after the 2013 season. Seattle rolled Denver, 43-8.
“I lost about $8 million on that and didn’t have insurance,” McIngvale said. “My wife wanted to divorce me after that.”
His baseball odds were +220 for the $3.5 million and $1.5 million wagers and +250 for the other $240k. If Houston wins, he’ll collect $11.6 million in wagers while refunding $15 million to his mattress customers.
Not many bookies are willing to take such hefty bets, so McIngvale had to spread his plays around. The Supreme Court’s overturning of the sports-betting ban in May 2018 has given him more outlets to place his wagers.
If Houston loses, he can rest on $9.76 mil based on what he sold in bedding but lost in betting.
Houston will open its ALDS series against Tampa Bay on Friday afternoon (2 p.m., FS1).
“Mattress Mack” ran a promotion in 2014 when he gave out $4 million in refunds when the Astros ended their three-year run of 100-loss seasons.
“Well, we’re all in the wrong business,” tweeted @js_ace_football, “we need to be selling [mattresses].”
McIngvale is described as an icon in Houston. He’s a season ticket holder and major sponsor of the club. He accompanied the Astros when they visited the White House after winning the 2017 World Series and was a guest at the 2018 funeral of President George H.W. Bush.
“I enjoy the store filling up with the customers. I enjoy the goodwill, and I also enjoy helping the Astros,” McIngvale told the Houston Chronicle. “Brick-and-mortar retailing is under siege, and we have to do something to remain topical and relevant for the customers. This makes us relevant and topical, and it brings us customers.”