If you aren’t a baseball fan, you probably didn’t know that the sport’s flagship event – the World Series – has been taking place over the past few weeks.
One Houston Astros fan that has been acutely aware of the MLB showpiece is Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale, who when not cheering his team to victory has been placing several sizable bets on them prevailing.
The Astros duly obliged, and McIngvale – who is thought to have wagered $10 million on that outcome in several bets throughout the season – would take home around $75 million (£64.3 million) in winnings.
One of those flutters was $3 million placed at odds of 10/1, and after Mattress Mack stopped by to collect his winnings, Caesars chief operating officer Ken Fuchs said: “What can we say? We just wrote the biggest check in sports betting history to Mattress Mack for $30 million.”
However, the money won’t be resting in his betting balance for long. He owns a chain of furniture shops across American, and runs promotions on beds, sofas and mattresses to offset his gambling wins or losses.
This year, he offered any customer who spent $3,000 or more on furniture in one of his stores double their money back if the Astros won the World Series.
But it’s still a safe bet to assume that the 71-year-old will have made a ton of profit….unless he has sold around $37.5 million worth of furniture in the past year!
That’s not as crazy as it sounds. Mattress Mack offered a similar promotion for last season’s Super Bowl, and ended up selling $20 million worth of furniture. Happily for him, that offset the $9.5 million he lost in wagers on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The Biggest Sports Betting Wins In UK History
Names like Mattress Mack, Vegas Dave and Billy Walters are synonymous with huge bets – and some major wins – Stateside.
But it’s much more difficult for high rollers in the UK to bet seven figure sums, with bookmakers limits on deposits and single payouts rendering similarly monumental wins as those seen in the United States an impossibility.
That said, there have still been some colossal winners on UK soil. The top spot has to go to Steve Whiteley, who placed a £2 ticket on The Tote and probably thought no more of it back in March 2011.
The heating engineer was known for his frugality amongst his friends and family, and he travelled to Exeter Racecourse on the fateful day in question using his bus pass and a ticket for free admission.
A few hours later, Whiteley would be able to afford a bus journey around the world as his six picks – including a horse that hadn’t won in 28 previous starts – all did the business. And nobody else had backed the six-timer, which featured four selections at 12/1 or longer.
The heating engineer would enjoy a cockle-warming jackpot of £1.4 million, which is thought to be the biggest won on UK soil to this day.
But arguably the best bet, pound for pound, placed on these shores was the 50p accumulator laid down by Fred Craggs in 2008.
The fertiliser salesman watched his back account grow by £1 million after all eight of his picks won at race meetings across the land. Craggs didn’t seem to mind when placing the bet that odds of 2,000,000/1 made it more likely that Lord Lucan would reappear than his flutter would land, but discretion is the better part of valour and the Yorkshireman cast aside his 50 pence, expecting never to see it again.
Maybe it was written in the stars, as two of Craggs’ picks – Isn’t That Lucky and A Dream Come True – would bookend his magnificent eight and secure perhaps the greatest coup in UK betting history.
William Hill might disagree – they were the ones forced to hand over one of those over-sized cheques, although their spokesperson Graham Sharp said: “This is the most amazing bet ever placed since betting shops were made legal in 1961.”
The best bit is that Craggs, who was celebrating his sixtieth birthday at the time, didn’t even know he had won when he turned up at his local Hills shop to ask how he’d got on.
The cashier who served him revealed that he went rather pale when told he had landed the eight-timer, with his first words after being that he had ‘better go home and tell the wife.’