For much of this baseball season, Gallery Furniture stores in Houston have been running a promotion promising to refund mattress purchases of $3,000 or more if the Astros win the World Series. It’s a pretty gutsy move on the part of Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale: Houston won a franchise-record 107 games during the regular season, the most in all of baseball, and feature an absolutely loaded roster, including infielder Alex Bregman (in the running for MVP), pitchers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (who easily could go 1-2 in the AL Cy Young voting), and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (who seems likely to win AL rookie of the year honors). Should the Astros win the World Series, McIngvale will be on the hook for more than $15 million worth of refunds, he told the Action Network’s Darren Rovell.
To help mitigate that potential hit, McIngvale went about trying to find a sportsbook that would take a large wager on the Astros to win the World Series, and on Monday he found one: the DraftKings sportsbook at Scarlet Pearl casino in Biloxi, Miss., which took his $3.5 million bet on the Astros to win it all at +220 odds. If Houston takes home the World Series title for the second time in three seasons, McIngvale would win $7.7 million.
McIngvale flew to Mississippi on Tuesday to pose with his ticket and a briefcase full of cash (he actually wired the $3.5 million on Monday):
Scarlet Pearl CEO LuAnn Pappas told the Chronicle that McIngvale’s wager was the largest placed in Mississippi since the state began taking sports bets last year. According to ESPN’s David Purdum, the $3.5 million is nearly equal to how much was bet on baseball at Mississippi sportsbooks in the months of June, July and August combined.
It’s also one of the biggest single sports bets ever recorded, and McIngvale wants to get down even more money if he can find another casino to take his action, perhaps in New Jersey (he told Rovell he’s waiting to see whom the Astros will be playing). Anthony Curtis, a Las Vegas gambler who helped McIngvale find the best price, told Purdum that Mattress Mack wants to get down upward of $10 million on the Astros.
McIngvale ran a similar promotion in 2017 and refunded more than $10 million in mattress purchases when the Astros defeated the Dodgers in the World Series. He was able to hedge some of it with insurance but also placed around $1 million in bets on the Astros to win the World Series in Las Vegas. This year, however, lining up the insurance proved to be more difficult because of how good Houston has played and because of Tropical Storm Imelda, which dumped a massive amount of rain on Texas’s Gulf Coast.
“This year, knowing how good the Astros were, I wanted to wait a bit,” McIngvale told Rovell. “But then at the trade deadline, they got [pitcher Zach] Grienke and their odds were cut in half, so the insurance I lined up changed. Then, I signed a new deal. But that was waived off after the hurricane on the coast caused so much damage that the insurance companies got nervous and pulled their offer.”
The media value of the publicity his chain will get also could trump any losses, as was the case in 2014 when McIngvale promised refunds to mattress customers if the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, which they did.
“When I picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl and the center hiked the ball over Peyton Manning’s head, we lost $8 million off rebates. My wife was going to divorce me,” he told Rovell. “But the truth is, we got $30 million to $40 million in media value. I anticipate it will be even more here.”