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Mack loses millions

Mattress Mack is upbeat after losing $7 million Super Bowl bet, but is it legal?

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Mattress Mac or Jim McIngvale of Gallery Furniture holding up dollar bills
Jim "Mattress Mack" didn't save money at the Super Bowl, but he says the exposure of his promotion is priceless. StartUpHouston.com

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is licking his wounds after losing a multi-million dollar Super Bowl wager that's making national headlines. It was a bet large enough to catch the attention of Harris County investigators.

Since mid-January, the legendary Gallery Furniture owner has promised shoppers who bought at least $6,000 of furniture before Sunday's game a full refund if the Seattle Seahawks proved victorious. And after the Denver Broncos' crushing defeat, McIngvale now owes a whopping $7 million to nearly 1,000 customers.

Mack is confident that the Super Bowl bet was within the parameters of gambling laws. 

"We're thrilled so many people won all that furniture," he tells CultureMap. "It's been a terrific way to re-engage with our loyal customers and attract newer, younger ones."

Gallery Furniture will host refund events at its two locations on Feb. 9 and 23. All valid customers still are required to cover sales tax, meaning that winners will pay $495 or more at Houston's current rate of 8.25%.

McIngvale, who lost $600,000 in a similar promotion during January's NFL playoffs, is confident that the Super Bowl bet was within the parameters of gambling laws. However, some observers believe his promotion meets the definition of illegal gambling because it involves consideration (buying $6,000 of furniture), chance (Seattle may win or lose) and prize (getting a refund of the purchase price).

The Harris County District Attorney's Office did have its concerns about the furniture special in recent weeks. HCDAO spokesperson Jeff McShan confirms that lawyers looked into the case, but says that it "didn't rise to the level of criminal activity."

While large companies often take out insurance policies to protect themselves from risky big-ticket promotions, McIngvale tells ESPN that this one is all on Gallery Furniture and that the media attention has more than made up for the $7 million loss.

He estimates that the Super Bowl hit, while significant, only represents about 5 percent of his company's annual revenues.

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