A new record was set on Super Bowl Sunday: the largest bet ever placed online.
And with around 90 seconds of the contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, Jim McIngvale was about to turn his $9.5 million (£7 million) wager on the Bengals into a rather handsome net win of $16 million (about £12 million).
But then disaster struck, as with barely a minute to go Cooper Kupp crossed the endzone to sneak the Rams into the lead – they would cling on to their 23-20 cushion, and McIngvale found himself a rather sizable sum in the hole.
The businessman and racehorse owner had calmly driven from his home in Texas, where gambling is illegal, and crossed the border into neighbouring Louisiana. He pulled up at the side of the road, logged onto his Caesars Sportsbook account and wagered $5 million on the Bengals – officially the largest sum punted online on a single sporting event – to go with the $4.5 million he had already placed on the Cincinnati outfit.
MATTRESS MACK IS BACK ? @MattressMack
The biggest wager of ALL-TIME @CaesarsSports
$5 MILLION on the Bengals (+170 ML)
Mack already had $4.5M on Cincy and can now win $16.2M pic.twitter.com/foZCY4v13x
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) February 11, 2022
There is, however, a twist in the tale. McIngvale is known as ‘Mattress Mack’ thanks to his ownership of the Gallery Furniture retail empire, and in the run up to Super Bowl LVI he had run a promotion in which anybody purchasing items worth $3,000 or more in one of his shops would earn a refund if the Bengals had gone on to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.
So, it was all a PR stunt of sorts, and if the promo acted as a loss leader then Mattress Mack was still onto a winner – he’s now in the record books and presumably made plenty of money selling beds….the extra $5 million he punted certainly suggests as much.
“Well, I sold through the profit on the first investment, so I had to make another,” he said when quizzed on why he had placed the second bet.
Who is Mattress Mack?
It’s not the first time that McIngvale has hit the headlines with his betting exploits in America.
The 71-year-old ran a similar promotion in his furniture stores to coincide with the Kentucky Derby in 2021 – again, he would have refunded big-spending customers had the favourite, Essential Quality, won. McIngvale wagered £1.7 million on the horse, and watched on as it lost out in controversial circumstances to Medina Spirit.
Mattress Mack has plenty of interest in horse racing himself, and has owned a number of winners across the Atlantic. The best known of those, Runhappy, was crowned the champion sprinter in 2015 after going six outings unbeaten – including winning the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
He’s perhaps best known for his big bets, and particularly on the Super Bowl game – in 2021, he won a cool $2.75 million (£2 million) after backing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, which they did 31-9.
But his ‘beds for bets’ promo hasn’t always gone to plan – he lost $13 million in bets, offset by $8 million in furniture sales, when the Houston Astros lost the 2019 baseball World Series.