It wasn’t the $2 billion-plus that hit the record-breaking Powerball jackpot this week, but Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale did have a massive payday of his own.
When his beloved Astros won the World Series last weekend, the boisterous 71-year-old Houston furniture store owner became what is widely regarded as the biggest sports event betting winner of all time. He had bet $10 million on the team to win the MLB title, spread across multiple sports bets and at different odds at different stages of the season.
He came out just over $72 million (some reports say $72.6 million, others $75 million), but that’s not pure profit. He made the bets to hedge against a promotion he had on furniture, including mattresses, that he sold, where those who spent at least $3,000 on certain items would get double their money back if the Astros would win the series.
However, it is believed that he came out way ahead.
People also read…
“It’s definitely a win-win situation,” McIngvale told ESPN. “These promotions just bring the brand to life and give us a lot of brand equity that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Customers love it, so they’re totally engaged and talking about it for years. Because it’s running all season, it also likely increases the number of people who follow the Astros because they now have a genuine personal interest in the team.
McIngvale is a showman well-liked in Houston for his charitable works and Texan personality. He regularly quotes the Bible on social media posts, but he also has a turning point. He allowed heckling in Philadelphia while he was there for the World Series last week, animatedly yelling sexually-oriented obscenity at several people as they belittled his team’s integrity.
But he often performs random acts of kindness, such as recently when he gave a 48-year-old woman with Down syndrome and others in her group tickets to the World Series.
He probably made his greatest contribution to the community in 2017, when the area suffered from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. So he let people, total strangers, stay at his store for free.
“At the end of the day, we’re all judged by our creator, and he won’t ask how much money we’ve made,” McIngvale told ESPN. “Instead, he or she will ask us how much of a difference you’ve made?”
So popular is he in his hometown that a petition was circulated last week asking to be thrown the ceremonial first pitch before a World Series game. It drew tens of thousands of supporters and he was on the field on Saturday to do just that – a few hours later the Astros delivered him the landmark payout. Then on Monday he was on the roof of a double-decker bus with many Astros players during the championship parade in downtown Houston.
“Just talk about an amazing moment!” he tweeted. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would ride WITH THE @astros in their championship parade and the people of Houston would sing MY NAME. That’s humiliating. I love you HOUSTON!”
McIngvale was in Las Vegas on Thursday collecting and one of the places he won was BetMGM. posted videos of him pulling a wheelbarrow loaded with $10 million in cash to a private plane to take it to Houston. No direct deposit or check for this extravagant guy.
“This money is difficult,” he says.
The biggest loser in all of this was Caesars Sportsbook, which took a $3 million bet from the Astros at odds of 10:1. That’s a $30 million hit.
“What can we say? We just wrote the biggest check in the history of sports betting to Mattress Mack,” Caesars Digital chief operating officer Ken Fuchs said in a statement.
The mattress man is weighing on the bottom line of Caesars, the mega casino gaming conglomerate. Caesars CEO Tom Reeg brought it up on the company’s earnings call last week.
“I think most of you know that we have a pretty high-profile signing with Astros, so that’s going to be a determining factor as to whether the fourth quarter is positive overall,” Reeg said.
Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at South Point Resort in Las Vegas, probably summed up the sentiment for many betting shops like his that aren’t tied to megacorporations.
“I got to know Mattress Mac a bit,” Andrews, a longtime Nevada bookmaker, said in a tweet. “Good guy. I’m happy for him and his huge score. Especially since he didn’t bet with me.”
Statistics of the week
How badly does the suddenly questionable status of a star quarterback affect the point distribution in the NFL? In the case of Buffalo’s Josh Allen, quite a lot.
The Bills entertain Minnesota in a first-pace team matchup on Sunday, and when the opening lines for this week’s games were released last Sunday, Buffalo was favored by many sportsbooks at 9 1/2 points. But when it was revealed later in the week that he had sustained a throwing arm injury in his last match and the odds of him playing the Vikings diminished, the line dropped.
As of Friday afternoon, the Bills were favored by 3 at DraftKings (East St. Louis) and 3 1/2 at the other legal sportsbooks in the St. Louis area — FanDuel (Collinsville) and Argosy (Alton).
It’s been an up and down here lately, with the bottom falling out with a goose egg on our picks last week to drop to 12-18 and -18 units overall. •••).
Nonetheless, we will try to follow the comeback path with this week’s opinions (the odds listed are the cheapest available among the three sportsbooks in the region on Friday afternoon):
Indiana at Ohio State, 11 a.m. Saturday, Missouri at Tennessee, also 11 a.m. Saturday: We’re going to go to the wild side here and parlay multiple outcomes in these games. In the first, we expect a big rebound for the Buckeyes after their high-octane offense was tied down by miserable weather in the Northwest last week. It can rain here, but unlike last week, the wind is not expected to play a major role. The Buckeyes previously had at least 44 points in seven straight games when they were held at 21 but face a weak Hoosiers defense here.
Second, this is a bad point for MU as the Vols will look to vent their frustrations over their loss in their big game in Georgia last week.
We couple here a couple of exotic bets where books allow the lines to be manipulated from the traditional numbers (at worse odds, of course), but when combined they can pay out decently. Ohio State over 16 1/2 points in the first half (“true” line is 28) and over 40 1/2 all game (“true” line is 49 1/2), plus Tennessee -16 (“true” line is 49 1/2). ) line is 20). This would pay out money a little more than once at DraftKings. ••
Seahawks vs. Buccaneers, Sunday, 8:30 a.m., in Munich: The NFL is playing a regular season game in Germany for the first time and features Tom Brady and the Bucs. However, the Bucs looked more like Clucks this year, and the Seahawks have been one of the league’s surprise teams in a good way. Outright victory in Seattle is certainly possible, and earning points is a bonus. Seahawks +3 (Argosy). •••