Mattress Mack Bets Big On Houston Cougars To Win It All

Written By Grant Lucas on March 29, 2021 - Last Updated on February 15, 2023
houston cougars odds

Mattress Mack is at it again.

The Houston businessman who you may know as Jim McIngvale — though better known by his aforementioned moniker — placed another seven-figure wager.

Again traveling to Colorado, Mattress Mack locked in a $1 million wager through DraftKings Sportsbook for the No. 2-seeded Houston Cougars to win the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship.

With the bet coming just ahead of Saturday’s Sweet 16 games, Mattress Mack got the best bang for his buck. In fact, a Houston win would result in a massive $9 million payday.

Due to a statewide ban on legal sports betting, Texans will have to watch and wonder how bettors like Mattress Mack might have impacted the Lone Star State.

Mattress Mack drops historic March Madness bet

Just a few weeks after turning 70, McIngvale has a bet in place that could be a belated birthday gift like no other.

Prior to the weekend’s Sweet 16 games getting going, McIngvale, owner and operator of the Houston-based Gallery Furniture, got in a $1 million wager through DraftKings that would pay +900 if the Cougars did what the program has never done before by winning the national championship.

For those doing math at home, that means a Houston title earns Mattress Mack a cool $9 million. DraftKings noted that McIngvale’s bet is one of the largest March Madness wagers on record.

“Mack has established himself in the sports betting community with several historic wagers over the years,” said Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations for DraftKings, “and we are thrilled to take his latest action on Houston at 9-1 to win the NCAA Tournament. Houston has had a fine year and favorable start to the tournament, so we wish Mack the best of luck on his million-dollar bet as these highly entertaining and more advanced stages of March Madness unfold.”

Added McIngvale:

“Anything can happen in March Madness as we all know, but I’m ten toes down on Houston to bring the national title to Texas, and willing to stake a million dollars with DraftKings on that outcome.”

Can Houston actually win the NCAA championship?

There’s no question that Houston is enjoying its most successful season since the days of Phi Slama Jama in the mid-1980s. With Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Cougars appeared in back-to-back national championship games.

Yet the Cougs lost both games, either in still-unbelievable ways or just by getting bullied around by a future hall-of-famer.

Houston hasn’t been back to the Final Four since that last tourney run in 1984. In fact, their Sweet 16 win over Syracuse earned the Cougars their first trip to the Elite Eight since that championship appearance. And actually, the only other time Houston earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament came … in 1984.

Houston has dazzled this season, led by Quentin Grimes and his 18 points per game. The Cougars have opened eyes this tournament, like their 31-point win over Cleveland State in the first round or the 16-point victory over Syracuse in the Sweet 16. But there are also cases that make you scratch your head, like the 63-60 narrow escape over Rutgers that required a little bit of magic.

The road has treated Houston well thus far, as No. 12 Oregon State will serve as the fourth straight double-digit seed Houston will face this tournament.

The Cougars enter the Elite Eight with the fourth-best odds to win the national title. As of Sunday night, the leaders in the DraftKings clubhouse are:

  • No. 1 Gonzaga +135
  • No. 1 Baylor +250
  • No. 1 Michigan +550
  • No. 2 Houston +600
  • No. 6 USC +1200
  • No. 12 Oregon State +1600
  • No. 3 Arkansas +2000
  • No. 11 UCLA +2800

“I look forward to having skin-in-the-game for the rest of March Madness,” McIngvale said, “and seeing these young men compete, especially after the tournament was cancelled last season.”

Mattress Mack adds to well-documented betting history

It was less than two months ago when McIngvale was last on the betting radar.

Mattress Mack flew to Colorado and put $3.46 million on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cover the 3.5-point spread in Super Bowl LV. The Bucs, of course, won that game, turning McIngvale’s wager into a $2.72 million profit.

Mattress Mack also garnered headlines in recent years with larger-than-life bets on the Houston Astros to win the World Series. In 2017, after staking $1 million on the Series and as part of a promotion for Gallery Furniture, McIngvale refunded more than $10 million to customers because of the Astros victory.

Two years later, Mattress Mack spread out across the country an estimated $13 million on an Astros win.

The Houston Cougars have a chance at making Mattress Mack look good. Their next step comes Monday night against Oregon State with tip time scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET.

Photo by AP / Michael Conroy
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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