Mattress Mack's $1 million March Madness bet still alive in Louisiana
Mattress Mack's $1 million March Madness bet made in Louisiana stayed alive after the Houston Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins against Northern Kentucky and Auburn.
Jim McIngvale, the Houston furniture store magnate known as Mattress Mack, made his $1 million bet in cash on Dec. 12, 2022 at the renovated Horseshoe Casino in Lake Charles.
At the time, McIngvale got 8-to-1 odds for his wager, which means he'll win $8 million if Houston goes all the way with four more wins.
"It's a risky bet, but no guts, no glory," McIngvale said in an interview with USA Today Network.
McIngvale traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to watch Houston's first two NCAA Tournament games, which culminated in an 81-64 comeback win Saturday against Auburn.
"It was a tremendous, thrilling second-half comeback; now the Coogs are in he Sweet 16," McIngvale said in a Twitter video. "Go Coogs! Great effort tonight."
After the two wins, Houston's odds to win the title improved to 3.6-to-1, less than half of the value of when McIngvale made his bet.
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 his last two massive bets were made in person to market the Horseshoe.
"I like Caesars because they fade whatever I got," he said. " A lot of the other casinos don't take those big bets."
It's also been a marketing bonanza for Louisiana's new sports betting industry, said state Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns.
"The publicity from it has been phenomenal," Johns said. "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 uses 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 $2 million bet he lost on the Dallas Cowboys in their playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers this year, the addition business it generates more than makes up for the loss.
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.
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."
More:Mattress Mack made record-breaking bet on Houston Astros in Louisiana; here's what he won
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.