The Astros are Jim McIngvale’s home team; he has supported them forever so it is fitting that his first ‘big’ bet was on them to win the World Series.
He spent the month leading up to the game travelling around trying to place large sums of money on his team to win the competition, even placing a final $700,000 wager the day before Game 7; and as baseball fans will know, a Game 7 is a bit of a sporting treat when it occurs.
All in all, the individual bets made across the month added up to around $13 million, but this wasn’t your typical wager.
As a clever marketeer and salesman, Jim wove his bets in with a promotion at his furniture store, Gallery Furniture, using the bet to hedge the promotion, whereby if the Astros won the customers would get their money back and get to keep the items they bought.
If the Astros lost, then there would be no refunds, but hopefully, Jim’s store would have seen enough of an increase in sales to cover the loss of the bet.
As you can imagine, this historically large bet drew a lot of media attention, and propelled Jim into the spotlight.
His known bets were as follows:
- $6.2 million worth of bets at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Sportsbook, Mississippi. His first single bet of $3.5 was a state record.
- $1.5 million at the Meadowlands sportsbook in New Jersey. An online record for the state.
The exact details of the rest of his bets are not known, but he is thought to have spread them across seven sportsbooks in 3 states.
The Astros were heavy favourites for the title, so what happened next was surprising for everyone, not just Jim.
Losing the Bet
It couldn’t have gone much worse for the Astros to begin with, as they lost the first two games 5-4 and then an embarrassing 12-3 at Minute Maid Park, their own stadium.
They got their own back over the next three games though, all at Washington’s Nationals Park, claiming game three 4-1, game four 8-1, and game five 7-1.
The Washington Nationals needed to win game six to stay in the running, and they managed it with a 7-2 defeat over the Houston Astros, forcing a seventh game.
This was held at Minute Maid Park, but the Nationals nevertheless overcame the Astro’s home advantage with a 6-2 win, and bagged their first ever title.
Coincidentally, it was also the first World Series where all 7 games were won by the visiting team; in fact, the Washington Nationals won the series despite only scoring 3 runs on home turf.
So Mattress Mack’s first ever super high stakes bet was lost, but he remained upbeat.
While being interviewed after the loss, McIngvale joked:
“I would like to thank Beau Rivage for not taking my $500,000 bet today. Unibet for always having the highest odds against the Astros, causing me to bet elsewhere. FanDuel for cutting me off. You really did save me money!”
That last bit is an in joke, since Mack’s catchphrase on TV commercials is “Saving YOU Mmmoney!”.
Had the Astros managed to fend off the Washington Nationals in that final game, Mack would have pocketed around $25 million, enough to cover refunds to all of the customers who bought mattresses and maybe leave him change for a nice meal or something.
“That’s baseball. You win some you lose some, sometimes you get rained out, but there’s always tomorrow.”
As you can see, he doesn’t sound particularly upset about the loss, and that’s because, despite not quite breaking even, he didn’t end up losing all that much once increased sales were accounted for, and the sort of publicity his business received was priceless.