Sportsbooks are bracing for their largest collective loss in sports betting history.
If the Astros win the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale will win a record $72.6 million from six different books from $10 million in futures bets on his hometown team.
“I suspect that will be the single biggest win on an event by one person anywhere on the globe ever,” BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott said.
The colorful McIngvale relishes that prospect, saying tongue-in-cheek, “That way I can establish myself as ‘Mattress Mack,’ the world’s greatest sports gambler.”
McIngvale, 71, said that with a gleam in his eye because he isn’t gambling in the traditional sense. The wagers are the latest in a series of bets to reduce risk on promotions at his Gallery Furniture stores.
In this case, he initially offered customers who bought $3,000 or more of furniture double their money back if the Astros win the World Series. As his liability soared, he simply offered customers their money back on purchases of at least $3,000 before stopping the promotion this week after selling a store-record $16 million worth of furniture Sunday and Monday.
“We stand to win (almost) $75 million. Of that amount, we’re going to give almost every penny back to the customers,” McIngvale said. “It’s pretty much a wash of giving the customers their money back, which is what we really want to do.”
McIngvale placed his bets in May and July, with the largest wager $3 million to win $30 million (10-1 odds) at Caesars Sportsbook.
“We might be looking for the keys to the Brink’s truck to back up to the vault, but it’s always fun to partner with Mack on his bets and his promotions,” Caesars head of sports Ken Fuchs said. “He’s larger than life. He is someone who bets with his heart, but he’s also betting based on a very unique business strategy.”
McIngvale’s bets have been a source of fascination in the sports betting world over the last few years. He won $11.2 million on Kansas to win the NCAA men’s basketball title in April, including $7.92 million from Caesars. The windfall snapped a $25 million losing streak since the 2021 Super Bowl.
In May, McIngvale wagered $1 million to win $12 million on the Astros at WynnBET.
“From a booking standpoint, it’s not a normal thing for a person to want to bet $1 million on futures,” WynnBET vice president of trading Alan Berg said. “In most cases, if you’re making a bet in May or June and it’s not cashing until November, you just take the action. And if the guy happens to win, you just have to kind of tip your cap that they called it that far back.”
In July, McIngvale placed an additional $6 million in Astros bets, including $2 million to win $10 million at the BetMGM book at Bellagio.
“I’d much prefer to take big bets on the futures, which have got a lot more variance and injuries and all those kinds of things,” BetMGM’s Scott said. “And we know this fits in with Mack’s betting patterns. He always bets the Astros and Texas teams, so we were comfortable there.”
Scott and Berg said McIngvale’s bets have weighed on them a bit.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that there’s this looming liability, and it seems like everything really has broken pretty well for the Astros,” Berg said. “They might just be the team of destiny.”
While it’s difficult for books to mitigate the risk of an eight-figure payout, WynnBET on Wednesday moved the series price to a market-best Phillies +185 (Astros -225) to try to attract some Philadelphia money. (At those odds, bettors wager $100 to win $185 on the Phillies or $225 to win $100 on the Astros.)
McIngvale posted on Twitter that the book offered him the chance to place a $1 million hedge bet on the Phillies at that price. But he declined. (A hedge bet is a wager placed on the opposite side of the original bet to guarantee a profit.)
“Not in a thousand years,” McIngvale said. “No. 1, I ain’t gonna hedge because I love the Houston Astros. No. 2, I ain’t gonna hedge because I’ve got $74 million in liability.”
In a partnership between Caesars and McIngvale announced Thursday, they’ll donate tractor-trailer loads of mattresses to first responders and military veterans Friday in Houston and on Monday in Philadelphia.
“We’re going to the City of Brotherly Love,” McIngvale said. “So hopefully they’ll be kind to me.”