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How To Understand Mattress Mack’s Big March Madness Bet

  • The Texas businessman bet $1 million on Houston to win the NCAA tournament.
  • A scheme involving his furniture store takes the risk out of his wager.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston men’s basketball team is +600 at most sportsbooks to win the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed for the second straight year, this time in the South region, and chances are you’ve probably heard of the school’s biggest backer.

Jim McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack,” has already wagered $1 million on the Cougars to cut down the nets at the end of March Madness and win their first national championship. But it’s not because he has an inside tip or even a strong inkling that Houston will be victorious. The Texas-based business mogul, owner of the Gallery Furniture retail chain, routinely makes headlines around big sporting events for his big bets—but in reality his wagers carry far less risk than it might seem, thanks to a fairly simple scheme.

Here’s how it works:

  • Gallery Furniture runs a promotion: In this case, customers who purchase a mattress of $4,000 or more get it for free if Houston wins the NCAA tournament.
  • Once enough mattresses are bought, McIngvale then places a bet on Houston to cover his potential losses.
  • This year’s $1 million bet was placed at +750 odds, meaning McIngvale would profit $7.5 million. 
  • If Houston wins, Gallery Furniture could refund up to 1,875 $4,000 mattress purchases.
  • As long as at least 250 mattresses were purchased, those sales would cover McIngvale’s bet.
  • If Houston loses, he’s out his $1 million, but he’s also sold a boatload of mattresses with the enticing deal.

McIngvale won $72.6 million from betting on the Astros to win the World Series in 2022. But he’s also had his fair share of losses, like the $4.1 million he put on Houston to win last year’s NCAA tournament. So, no matter how Houston finishes in March Madness, don’t feel too bad or get too impressed with Mattress Mack’s “bet.”

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