Meet one of the world’s biggest racing punters who earns millions even when his bets lose

A DEEPLY religious 70-year-old mattress salesman is one of the world’s biggest punters – who earns millions even when his bets lose.

Meet ‘Mattress Mack’ – a man who chat show host Ellen DeGeneres labelled a ‘true American hero’.

Mattress Mack is one of the world's biggest punters - but has devised a system by which he never really loses

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Mattress Mack is one of the world’s biggest punters – but has devised a system by which he never really loses
The businessman placing one of his bets during the Kentucky Derby

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The businessman placing one of his bets during the Kentucky Derby

Mattress Mack, real name Jim McIngvale, caught the attention of the racing world earlier this year with his monster gamble in the Kentucky Derby.

He staked what is believed to be the biggest racing bet ever of $2.3million (roughly £1.7m) on pre-race favourite Essential Quality.

The Godolphin hotshot finished fourth in a race won by Medina Spirit, the Bob Baffert-trained horse who failed a post-race drugs test and was labelled a ‘junky’ by Donald Trump.

Immediately thoughts went to Mattress Mack and the colossal amount of cash he had just lost.

And while it’s correct that bookies were rubbing their hands with glee at his loser, the truth is Mattress Mack ended up with just as much cash had Essential Quality won.

How? Well it all comes down to his brilliant business acumen.

Mattress Mack was placing bets for half a million bucks at a time

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Mattress Mack was placing bets for half a million bucks at a time

Mattress Mack owns the hugely successful Gallery Furniture chain in the US.

He often ties in his mega money wagers with promotions running in his shops.

That was the case during the Derby.

Mattress Mack ran a promo in which anyone buying a mattress for $3000 (£2235) would get it for free if Essential Quality won.

So if the horse had won, Mattress Mack would get his stake plus winnings back – totalling roughly £4.5m – and cover the cost of refunding customers.

The truth is though, his in-store promo was so successful he knew he had created himself a win-win situation.

WIN-WIN SCENARIO

Mattress Mack sold around 2000 mattresses with a combined value of approximately £4.5m.

So while the bet on Essential Quality went down the drain, the plus side was that he still earned £4.5m in all thanks to all the beds he sold.

Speaking of his genius idea, Mattress Mack said: “I’m very glad I did it.

“It made the store really busy for two weeks. Not only did they buy mattresses, they bought a lot of other things.

“In this crazy age of Amazon retailing, if we don’t do something that sets us apart we’re going to be put out of business by the Amazon people or by people that sell these inexpensive mattresses in a box.

“The promotion was great for bringing people out. It was fun.

“It’s too bad Essential Quality didn’t win but it was an exciting race.

“It was something that gave horse racing a shot in the arm.”

TV cameras showed Mattress Mack placing his bets at Churchill Downs, with one $100,000 deposit done purely for the cameras.

He had wired $4m to be used in all but worked out the $2.3m was what he needed to be onto a winner no matter what happened.

Aside from his monumental gambles, Mattress Mack has won fans over with his amazing generosity away from sports.

During terrible storms in Houston, Texas, earlier this year, he opened the doors of his furniture store so people could stay there for free.

For three days he gave more than 1000 people a place to stay and served thousands of hot meals totally free of charge.

Speaking of his generosity, Mattress Mack, who posts religious messages on his Twitter account daily, said: “We don’t necessarily make a lot of profit. We want to help the community and make it a better place.”

Although that’s not to say he doesn’t end up winning big on his bets sometimes.

At this year’s Super Bowl he won just over £2m after staking £2.6m on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beating the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last month he was on the brink of landing the biggest winner ever in American sports.

BETS TIED INTO BUSINESS PROMOS

He stood to win £26.5m from the Houston Astros winning the baseball World Series after staking £2.6m.

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The bet didn’t win but once again it was tied into a promotion at his store that, according to respected sports reporter Darren Rovell, netted him up to £6m in sold mattresses in all.

To most punters the thought of winning even when you lose is a totally alien concept.

Especially if you don’t fancy trying to navigate your way around the complex laying and backing markets on the exchange.

But one massive punter known as ‘The Joker’ took advantage of a ‘rebate’ system which meant he got a form of cashback on any bet he placed.

Zeljko Ranogajec is said to be worth £333m and pocketed loads from rebates, which in some instances were as much as 20 per cent.

That works out to a lot when staking an estimated £1.6billion per year.

No wonder he drove a £270,000 Lamborghini and bought a flat at London’s most exclusive address with his cash.

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Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

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