Houston Furniture Store Owner ‘Mattress Mack’ Aims to Win Big with Seven-Figure Kentucky Derby Wager

2023-05-12 00:38:54 - Patrick Gruce Patrick Gruce is a seasoned journalist with over a decade of experience in the tech and media industries, offering unique insights on the intersection of technology, media, and legal/regulatory issues through his background in journalism and law.

Houston-based furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is heading back to the Kentucky Derby, with a new seven-figure bet planned for this year's race. McIngvale plans to place his wager on the favorite, which looks to be Forte, reducing the risk of furniture promotions, as customers who purchase over $3,000 worth of furniture at his Gallery Furniture stores will get their money back if the Kentucky Derby favorite wins.

McIngvale has lost a total of $5 million in the last two years on wagers made on the Kentucky Derby. However, he is confident that this year's wager will be different as he states, "I haven’t won the last two times, so I think I’m overdue." He lost $2.6 million last year on Kentucky Derby favorite Epicenter and $2.4 million on 2021 favorite Essential Quality.

“Furniture sales aren’t as robust as they were the last couple of years because of the high interest rate,” said McIngvale, who is keen on betting a minimum of $1 million to $1.5 million, depending on how well his sales do.

McIngvale is waiting until close to 3:57 p.m. PT post time before placing his wager, as he anticipates the favorite will change. Currently, Forte was the 3-1 morning-line favorite, followed by Tapit Trice at 5-1. However, there were rumors that Forte might be scratched from the race after he stumbled during a gallop at Churchill Downs, but his trainer, Todd Pletcher, clarified that Forte is ready for the “Run for the Roses.”

Although McIngvale isn't fully confident about Forte's odds, he added, “Even if he does run, will they go up because of the little scare he had?” McIngvale doesn't want to bet on the second favorite and have the favorite win, as he would lose both ways. He plans to pay attention in the last couple of minutes, as normally it’s pretty obvious a half-hour before the race who is going to be the favorite.

McIngvale's seven-figure wager is part of a series of wagers that he has been making to reduce risk on furniture promotions. “We’ve just got to pay attention [to] the last couple of minutes. Normally, it’s pretty obvious a half-hour before the race who is going to be the favorite,” he said.

McIngvale, who owns 45 thoroughbreds, is an experienced gambler. He has long been passionate about horse racing and has been betting on it for decades. However, he is no stranger to losing large sums of money, as previously, he lost $13 million in a single day betting against the Houston Astros.

Despite his losses, McIngvale is well known in the Houston community for his philanthropy work, particularly during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when he turned his furniture stores into shelters for those who had been displaced.

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