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'Mattress Mack' Plans on the Making Biggest Bet in Kentucky Derby History

Houston furniture store owner Jim 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale said he plans on making the largest wager in Kentucky Derby history during the annual race at Churchill Downs this weekend.

McIngvale, 70, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he plans to bet "2 million-plus, maybe $3 million, maybe $4 million" on Essential Quality, the 5-2 favorite to win on Saturday (May 1.)

McIngvale has been known to place multimillion-dollar bets in recent years in an effort to hedge potential losses on furniture promotions, with Saturday's bet offering customers a chance to get their money back on a mattress purchased at $3,000 or more if the favorite wins the Kentucky Derby.

“The favorite has won six of the last seven Kentucky Derbies run on the first Saturday in May. So the customers have an 85 percent chance of winning,” Mack said. “My dilemma as a gambler is how to feed money into the pari-mutuel pool without killing the odds.”

Multiple horse racing sources have estimated that placing a multimillion-dollar wager on a 3-1 favorite would drop the odds to about 2-1, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Churchill Downs reported a record number of $165.5 million in combined total bets were placed during the 2019 race, which dropped significantly to $79.4 in 2020 after the race was postponed until September and attendance was prohibited amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the biggest horse racing pool, which is why I’m doing the bet at this race,” Mack said. “At the end of the day, because so many people bet the Kentucky Derby and a lot of times they bet on a horse name they like, I’m hoping to get 3-1.”

McIngvale recently won $2.67 million on a $3.4 million hedge bet placed on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, snapping a losing streak that included a losing bet on the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series.

McIngvale also recently lost a $1 million wager placed on the Houston Cougars to win the NCAA men's basketball national championship.

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