$15.43M Losses: “Mattress Mack’s” Turbulent History of Sports Betting

The Cincinnati Bengals threw away a 20-16 lead with just two minutes of play to lose 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl LVI. The loss is the Bengals’ third in the Super Bowl in as many appearances.

The loss came with unimagined emotional pain among the legion of the team’s fans. However, any Bengals devotee is definitely accustomed to such pain, considering that the team is one of the most unlucky sides in the NFL

The same cannot be said of Jim McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack”, who lost almost $10 million in wagers on two bets where he predicted that the Bengals would win the Super Bowl.

Gambling Problem or A Business Decision?

Whether his loss was due to a gambling problem or a bad business decision is unclear. But McIngvale’s loss is nerve-wracking because a Bengals win would have earned him $16.15 million in profits. However, the furniture salesman, who is based in Houston, seems unfazed. According to a tweet by Darren Rovell, the 71-year-old businessman has lost almost $15.5 million in “bad bets” since January 1, including a title toss on the Patriots, Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The losses do not seem much if you consider why McIngvale placed the bets. The owner of Gallery Furniture, a Houston-based furniture store, says that the bets hedge the promotions he runs in his business.

Despite losing $9.5 million wagering that the Cincinnati Bengals would win the Super Bowl, Mattress Mack reported more than $20 million in furniture sales.

Huge Promotion

McIngvale held a promotion leading up to the Super Bowl. Any customer who bought a $3,000 mattress or recliner would have gotten a full refund had the Bengals won. McIngvale admits that his transactions went over the roof because of the promotion.

Gallery Furniture recorded $1 million-worth of sales in the morning of the Super Bowl alone, helping Mattress Mack reach his target of $20 million.

A Long History of Hedging Promos

Sports betting has been McIngvale’s business strategy for more than a decade. 

He admitted to running promotions in his store and hedging against them with the occasional sports bet.

The results of the Super Bowl LVI are good from a business standpoint. However, McIngvale is disappointed that his customers hadn’t won any free mattresses.

McIngvale, a die-hard Houston Astros fan, said he’s not normally worried if the bets go south since such a situation leaves him with customers’ money. However, he says the best situation is for his team to win, meaning his customers get their money back while he recoups his investment.

Record Wagers

The huge wager by Mattress Mack is not the only astonishing figure in this year’s Super Bowl. Sports betting houses had expected the event to rake in a record $7.6 billion in wagers, with some 31.4 million Americans participating. Here you can find some of the recently opened ones.

According to a new American Gaming Association report, this year’s figures trumped the previous record. The huge numbers come about because about 100 million Americans can now make a legal sports bet since the activity became legal in 30 states.

Multi-Million Dollar Losses

The Rams lifted the Super Bowl LVI following a fourth-quarter comeback. The bad bet is the most recent huge loss for Mattress Mack. His biggest wager was a bet tipping the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series. Mattress Mack staked some $17 million on the Astros only for them to go down to the Washington Nationals.

McIngvale says that none of these recent losses are as painful as the loss of the $2 million future bet he placed, 18 to 1, for the Texas team to win the Championship. The Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros and took McIngvale’s dream of cashing in $36 million.

Camp Hope

Jim McIngvale joined the residents of Camp Hope to watch the Super Bowl. Camp Hope is an intensive residential program based in Houston that attends to military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Asked how the $10 million loss compares to his other losses, the avid sports fan said that, being in the midst of Camp Hope, the residents made him realize how lucky he is. He said the veterans’ valiant struggle with PTSD makes his loss seem negligible.

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