America’s most famous sports gambler “Mattress Mack” dropped another mega bet in Louisiana, elevating the state’s profile as one of the nation’s epicenters for sports wagering.
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, the Houston furniture magnate who has made Louisiana his sports gambling home, bet $2 million at Casears Sportsbook in the Horseshoe Lake Charles casino Thursday on the Dallas Cowboys to win an NFL playoff game at the San Francisco 49ers Sunday.
If the underdog Cowboys win the game, “Mattress Mack” would win $3.35 million.
Louisiana Gaming Commission Chairman Ronnie Johns said McIngvale’s massive bets generate media coverage across the country, placing the spotlight on Louisiana.
“The publicity from it has been phenomenal,” Johns said in an interview with USA Today Network. “Everywhere I go people ask me about Mattress Mack.
“This is the kind of marketing you want, but you can’t buy. Every time Mattress Mack makes one of these bets here, it boosts our brand.”
McIngvale’s bets are less about him and more about his business.
He using the massive wagers as promotions for his Furniture Gallery stores. When he wins, customers who spend a minimum amount get their money back and keep the furniture. And even if he loses, like the epic $9.5 million he lost on the Cincinnati Bengals in last year’s Super Bowl, the promotions drive business.
“What can I say?” McIngvale said in a December interview with USA Today Network. “I’m a promoter. I was born to do this.”
Last year, McIngvale won $75 million on the Houston Astros after their World Series victory, the biggest payout in the history of sports wagering. The bulk of those bets were made through an app in a Lake Charles Sonic Drive-in stall.
But McIngvale’s wager on the Cowboys was done in person with cash at the Horseshoe to maximize the marketing and promotion, as was the $1 million he bet during the casino’s grand opening on Dec. 12 on the Houston Cougars to win the men’s Final Four at 8-to-1 odds.
“All I’ve got to say is, ‘How ’bout them Cowboys!'” McIngvale said after making his bet Thursday. “Go Cowboys.”
McIngvale is a beloved figure in Houston, not just for his high-stakes gambling, but also for his philanthropy.
He opened up his Gallery Furniture stores as shelters during past Houston hurricanes like Harvey in 2017 and Winter Storm Uri in 2021. Much of the Lake Charles gambling market is fed by Houston, which is only a 2-hour drive.
“We love this man,” said Houston resident Cassandra Fontenot as she took a selfie with Mattress Mack at the Horseshoe in December. “He cares so much about our city and gives so much back. You can’t go wrong with him.”
But he’s also been a good neighbor to Louisiana, offering shelter during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and again during Hurricane Ida in 2021 to anyone with a Louisiana ID.
“My father taught us all we have a responsibility to care for others who need help,” McIngvale said. “We’ve been doing that for 42 years and we’re not going to stop.”
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.