Gambling 911 Sits Down With Mattress Mack, Who Won $75 Million Betting World Series

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
HOUSTON — Earlier this month, Texas furniture mogul Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale won the largest payout ever on a legal sports bet: $75 million from a futures wager that the Houston Astros would win the 2022 World Series.
McIngvale, 71, who owns three successful Gallery Furniture stores in the Houston area and is worth a reported $300 million, only risked $10 million on the bet, as he got high futures odds last summer as he split the wager among five legal U.S. sportsbooks.
The hefty bet was part of a promotional effort to increase sales at his stores. Customers who had recently bought a new mattress from “Mattress Mack” were told they would have the cost reimbursed if the Astros won the Series. McIngvale covered the cost of the potential refunds with the huge futures wager.


After attending every game of the World Series and then hopping to Las Vegas to collect some of his winnings (the rest was wagered online), “Mack” returned home to Houston and his furniture business and a lot of happy customers.
Gambling 911 last week sat down with the talkative Texan at one of his stores for a wide-ranging interview and discussed baseball, the big bet and his viral confrontation with a Philadelphia sports fan, among other topics.
Here is a transcript of that interview:
Gambling 911: So how does it feel to win $75 million?
Jim McIngvale: It feels like winning a $300 bet 20 years ago.
G9: The bet was part of a promotion to help sell mattresses, as customers who bought them knew there was a chance they could get their money refunded. After refunding all the customers, how much of the $75 million will be left as profit for you?
JM: Not much. We will refund almost all the money and that’s the best thing to do because that builds the brand of Gallery Furniture exponentially. We got about $200 million worth of free publicity all over the world off the bet and I got my $10 million investment back, so I’m over the moon happy that the customers are getting their money back. It was a hedge bet.
G9: You got to throw out the first ball at one of the World Series games in Houston. What was that like?
JM: It was exciting. The fans obviously know me because I’ve been around here forever. They were pumped up after my little screaming session in Philadelphia about the Astros.
G9: We’ll get to the Philadelphia incident in a minute. But first, have you ever thrown out the first ball at a ball game before?
JM: Yes. I’ve done it at the National League Championship Series a couple of times in past years.
G9: You had a verbal altercation with a Philadelphia Phillies fan after World Series Game 3 in Philadelphia and the altercation went viral. Jimmy Kimmel even showed it on his TV show. After that happened, some fans started an online petition for you to throw out the first ball when the Series returned to Houston and some 40,000 fans signed it. Were you picked to throw out the first ball before Game 6 because of that petition? 
JM: I had nothing to do with that. Some guy started a petition and got a bunch of people to sign it. Whether I was picked for that reason or not, I don’t know. Gallery Furniture and the Houston Astros have a long great relationship ever since Mr. Crane took over the team seven or eight years ago.
G9: Okay, let’s get to the incident in Philadelphia, after Game 3. You were walking out of the stadium after the game and were wearing a Houston Astros jersey, when you got into a very heated verbal confrontation with a Phillies fan. Can you tell us what happened exactly? When you go to a sporting event in Philadelphia, it’s very dangerous to wear a jersey of the opposing team—didn’t anybody warn you about that?
JM: Yeah, they told me that. I downplayed it. We had just gotten beat 7-0 and I was unhappy. Walking out I was wearing an Astros jersey and some guy started screaming at me that the Astros were the biggest effing cheaters in history and at that point I had had enough and we got into it.
G9: Were you ever afraid that you were in any danger at any point during the confrontation?
JM: No, no, no, no, no. I’ve got a lot of fight in me.
G9: Some people were surprised that you don’t have bodyguards around you when you travel. What about that?
JM: What do I need bodyguards for? I’m just a person who went there to watch a simple baseball game.
G9: Because of what happened. It could’ve escalated.
JM: After the next two games in Philadelphia, Philly fans were coming up to me and telling me that the fan who cursed me out was one in a hundred and that Philly fans are very nice.
G9: You’re known as a very Godly, very religious man, so I think many people were shocked by the x-rated language from you in the video.
JM: I learned it from the Philly fans.
G9: You are very popular in the Houston area. Do people there want you to run for President of the United States?
JM: I want to run for furniture man and Houston Astros fan. That’s all I want to run for. I’m just looking forward to seeing the Astros next year. They could be as good as this year.
G9: They could be even better next year.
JM: They could be. They have a lot of great pitchers, a lot of great position players and a lot of great hitters. I really think the best is yet to come. And I think the key to the Houston Astros is two words: Jim Crane.
G9: The owner of the Astros. Is he a good friend of yours?
JM: I know him very well. He is very astute and an incredible business person. He knows a lot about baseball. He pitched college baseball while getting his education. He is very knowledgeable. As Reggie Jackson told me, he has a very wide bandwith. He’s very smart.
G9: Do you own any part of the Astros?
JM: No, but the Astros own part of me.
G9: If Crane offered you a chance to buy a minority stake in the team, would you do it?
JM: I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’m happy being a fan and a sponsor and standing on the outside. I am in a good position where I’m at.
G9: I understand you had some of the Houston Astros players come to your store and sign autographs for the people who got refunds. How did that go?
JM: We’re having three such events because we had so many people sign up for this mattress giveaway. The first one was November 13, another one was November 20 and we’re having the final one on December 4. The players come in and take pictures with all the people that were in the promotion. Everyone takes their cell phone out and takes a picture and it is a lifetime memory for these customers and the players are happy to do this.
G9: What players?
JM: Framber Valdez, who won two games in the World Series. Hector Neris, who helped close out several games. Rafael Montero, another great closer. And Cristian Javier, who helped pitch the no-hitter in the World Series.
G9: So this is not open to the  public—it’s only for the people who bought a mattress from you and were involved in the promotion?
JM: Yeah, it’s for people who bought a mattress or people who are looking to come in and spend money on furniture. This is not for every autograph seeker in Houston to come out here. This is about the customers who believed in us and we are rewarding them for being great Gallery Furniture customers.
G9: You used to be a minor celebrity, but since your big win you have been on “Good Morning America,” “ABC World News,” “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and ESPN, among other places. You are now a star.
JM: I don’t want to be a star. I just want to be a furniture salesman. That’s all I ever wanted to be.
G9: What is the next big bet that we can all look forward to? Would it be the Super Bowl?
JM: The reason the Houston Astros bet was so successful is because I was able to get out ahead of it. I got odds of 10 to 1 and 12 to 1 for $4 million, so what I’m trying to find is what I believe is a hot team in the NFL or NCAA football and get ahead of it. I’m looking for a big futures bet that I can ride into the playoffs.
G9: So you won’t be betting on Georgia to win the NCAA football championship?
JM: No. I generally don’t bet favorites. I want to get some long odds, just like the Astros did when they were 12 to 1 in June.
By Tom Somach
Gambling 911 Chief Correspondent

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