Thirty years ago, Jim McIngvale bet on himself: With $5,000 and a few tents on the side of a freeway, he launched a startup he called Gallery Furniture.
That bet paid off: Today "Mattress Mack" and Gallery Furniture boasts over 400 employees, making it the largest independent furniture chain in Texas.
Yet one bet he made didn't pay off: McIngvale reportedly bet over $12,000,000 on the Astros to win the World Series.
Had he won, his winnings would have totaled $19,641,391.
But the Astros lost. And so did Mack.
Or did he?
As the Astros marched their way to 107 regular season wins and a berth in the playoffs, Furniture Gallery stores launched an unusual promotion: Customers who spent more than $3,000 would have their money refunded if the Astros won the World Series.
Mattress Mack claims the refunds on the line totaled over $20 million.
Which meant if the Astros won, customers also won -- but so would Mack, since he could cash in on his bets.
Since the Astros lost, customers won't receive refunds. So yeah: Mack is out nearly $12 million in wagers... but as he says:
My mattresses obviously had profit baked into them. I feel like I hedged perfectly. The worst my customers got were great mattresses, the best would have been great, free mattresses.
Hedging is, of course, often smart business. Farmers do it all the time by purchasing or selling futures. Firms doing global business often hedge by purchasing or selling FOREX futures. Hedging is a common tool in a wide variety of industries like investing, insurance, and raw materials.
So while it's a little unusual for a business to hedge against a promotion through legal sports gambling... it's not that big a stretch.
Especially for Mattress Mack.
"I would do this again tomorrow," McIngvale said, "and I probably will. It's fun to be part of the greatest story in gambling history."
And, of course, to be part of a story that brings a tremendous amount of free publicity to a business.