High-stakes sports bettor Mattress Mack opens furniture stores to Texans seeking shelter from winter storm

·2 min read

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is best known as a man who makes high-stakes bets on big sporting events. Really high stakes.

He bet and lost more than $11 million on the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series as a hedge against his furniture store promotions. And he's wealthy enough to take that kind of loss in stride.

Locally, the Houston furniture store magnate is also known for using his good fortune to help out in times of need. With Texas in the throes of a once-in-a-generation winter storm, he's opened up his doors to people desperately in need of a warm place to stay.

'We're here for the community'

ABC 13 in Houston reports that McIngvale invited residents in need to find shelter in two of his Gallery Furniture locations amid freezing temperatures and infrastructure failures that have left millions in the state without electricity or safe drinking water from their taps.

"The cold is bitter, so we're opening up the doors to Houstonians," McIngvale told ABC 13. ... "Rather than complain about what should have been done, let's just do things that are good for the community.

"Get people out here. Whether they want to stay for two hours until their power gets back on or they want to stay for two days, we're here for the community."

Owner Jim McIngvale collects trash inside his Gallery Furniture store which opened as a shelter Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Houston. Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale has welcomed displaced Texas residents to sleep on his showroom furniture. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Texans desperately seeking warmth, shelter

Some parts of the state have seen temperatures drop below zero for the first time in decades. While Houston has avoided those treacherous lows, it's seen wind chills drop to single digits during the winter blast that's engulfed most of the nation.

People without power across Texas have desperately sought ways to keep warm as state officials and utilities have failed to ensure the resumption of electricity flowing to homes.

McIngvale has opened his doors to residents during previous disasters that have left people searching for somewhere to stay.

When flooding forced people from their homes in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, McIngvale invited displaced residents to sleep on the beds, couches and recliners in his furniture galleries.

"We sell home theater furniture that you watch TV in, they're sleeping on that," McIngvale told NPR in 2017. "They're sleeping on recliners, sleeping on sofas and love seats. We have sleeper sofas, they pulled them out and slept on that."

He did the same when Tropical Storm Imelda displaced residents in 2019.

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