The Titans Cost ‘Mattress Mack’ Another Million In Losing Bets

Posted on January 21, 2020 - Last Updated on March 9, 2020

Now is the winter of discontent for Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. Months after losing millions when the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series, McIngvale ended up on the downside of another big bet.

When the Tennessee Titans lost the AFC Championship game on Sunday, that result cost McIngvale another million dollars. It’s good marketing for him, however. Just goes to show youhow businesses that have nothing to do with legal sports wagering can still benefit from its existence.

How “Mattress Mack” lost another million on the Titans

McIngvale owns several furniture stores in the Houston area, which explains his affinity for the Titans. Before the franchise moved to Tennessee after the 1996-97 NFL season, it was the Houston Oilers.

Prior to Sunday’s game in Kansas City, McIngvale went to legal sportsbooks in Mississippi. There he placed two $500,000 moneyline bets on the Titans.

McIngvale got 3-1 odds from the two casinos he visited. When the home town Chiefs ended Tennessee’s unlikely postseason run, he was out seven figures.

McIngvale lost $13 million in Astros World Series bets

Had the Titans prevailed instead, maybe McIngvale could have run a promotion connected to Super Bowl LIV as he did with the 2019 World Series. During that event, he offered to refund any purchases of at least $3,000 if the Astros prevailed.

That somewhat offset the cost of the bets McIngvale put on Houston to claim its second World Series title in three seasons. He plopped down a total of $13 million on the Astros.

Because the Nationals won, McIngvale didn’t have to honor his promotion and refund his customers’ purchases. While it’s not clear if the promotion brought in $13 million to cover his gambling losses, the amount of attention it brought his brand has some real value.

McIngvale looks at doing business as he does wagering on sports. In order to get the maximum benefit off his gambles, he has to risk a lot.

While not all business owners have several million dollars to wager on their sales, the strategy isn’t a bad one. It’s possible for just about anyone to capitalize on the popularity of sports betting.

What Tennesseeans can learn from McIngvale’s actions

There are probably a lot of places where people in the greater Houston area can buy furniture. It’s possible that some of McIngvale’s competitors might offer a better product or more competitive pricing.

That doesn’t really matter, however. McIngvale’s use of sports wagering to promote his business has nothing to do with how good his furniture is or how his prices compare to the other guys in the same line of work.

McIngvale used a theme that his customers are familiar with, an affinity for the local MLB team. He also capitalized on a moment important to them. He then made headlines with a stunt.

All the free press he got, as a result, is worth millions of dollars. Businesses in Tennessee will eventually have the opportunity to replicate this formula.

The latest projections have legal Tennessee sportsbooks opening in time for the NBA and NHL playoffs. If that’s the case and both of/either the Grizzlies and the Predators are involved, Tennessee businesses should capitalize on those moments.

“Mattress Mack” has shown the way. While there’s a legitimate cost involved, the bigger question may be, can business owners afford not to get in on the action?

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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