December 2, 2023

Donations proceed to pour in to assist the household of uninsured Mary Lou Retton pay for what’s anticipated to be a staggering medical invoice because the Olympic gymnastics legend battles a uncommon type of pneumonia in a Houston hospital.

That’s simply accurately, in keeping with fellow Houstonian Jim McIngvale, the largest donor to the Spotfund crowdsourcing marketing campaign arrange Tuesday by Retton’s daughters. McIngvale is best identified in Texas as “Mattress Mack,” for his possession of the Gallery Furnishings retail chain. A significant philanthropist, McInvale revealed to TMZ that he and his spouse, Linda, donated $50,000 to the Retton fund, hoping to encourage different folks to supply what they will to help with the 1984 gold medalist’s medical bills.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 05: Jim McIngvale reacts after throwing out the primary pitch previous to Sport Six of the 2022 World Collection at Minute Maid Park on November 05, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photograph by Harry How/Getty Photographs) 

“Mary Lou was all the time a shining level of sunshine, as George Bush would say, and we pray for Mary Lou’s restoration and the $50,000 is the least we might do to assist an American icon get higher,” McIngvale stated in an interview with TMZ.

The businessman didn’t straight deal with Retton’s lack of insurance coverage, which was revealed by her daughter. This information dismayed many followers, who puzzled how an American sports activities star, who has presumably earned tens of millions in endorsements through the years, may very well be left uninsured.

McIngvale advised TMZ his spouse went via the same well being scare a yr in the past when she suffered a extreme lung an infection after a bout from pneumonia a yr in the past. “Folks get in a tough spot, let’s assist ’em out as a result of considered one of today, all of us might be in a tough spot,” he stated.

On Tuesday, Retton’s oldest daughter, McKenna Kelley, reported that her mom was within the ICU, not respiratory on her personal and “combating for her life. She stated the household needed to launch the Spotfund drive with the intention to pay her medical payments. “Out of respect” for his or her mom’s “privateness,” Kelly declined to supply extra particulars about her situation or how she ended up with out medical insurance.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Spotfund marketing campaign for Retton, a star gold medalist on the 1984 Olympics, had blown effectively previous its unique aim of $50,000, reaching $379,000 and rising. Kelley additionally stated that her mom remains to be within the ICU and “nonetheless combating,” whereas the household thanked everybody for “the outpouring of affection and help.”

McIngvale is a bigger than life determine in Texas, first making his title for the energetic, fast-paced gross sales pitches he did to advertise his furnishings enterprise. Since then, he’s additionally turn out to be identified for his high-profile sports activities betting, profitable $75 million when the Houston Astros claimed the 2022 World Collection, the New York Put up reported. After betting $6.9 million on the Astros this yr, he might win $43.4 million if the Astros take the sequence once more.

McIngvale has prolonged his wagers into politics and into created unconventional promotional opportunties for his shops. He’s identified for his far-right politics, which incorporates help for the Tea Get together and, extra not too long ago, for donating tens of millions to the campaigns of GOP candidates, together with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn.

To ask his prospects to hitch within the pleasure of the 2016 and 2020 presidential races, he providing those that bought a mattress for $2,000 or extra the chance to win their a reimbursement or obtain extra retailer credit score in the event that they selected the profitable political social gathering, The Houston Chronicle reported.

In 2016, he needed to make $10 million price of refunds to prospects who guess that Trump would win, the Chronicle stated. However in 2020, McIngvale got here beneath hearth for hesitating to make good on his promise of refunding cash to prospects who appropriately selected Joe Biden because the winner, the Houston Chronicle additionally reported. 

There was hypothesis on social media that McIngvale hesitated as a result of he was shopping for into Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. McIngvale considerably confirmed that principle when he introduced in January 2021 that checks have been lastly going out to prospects who picked Biden because the winner. McIngvale advised the Chronicle that the corporate delayed in sending the checks as a result of it needed to keep away from recollecting and redistributing prizes, “in case there was a flip, though the percentages have been very small.”

Relating to politics, it’s attainable that McIngvale sees a kindred spirit in Retton, who campaigned for Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984 and served as an adviser to the President’s Council on Bodily Health in the course of the George H.W. Bush administration. She additionally delivered the Pledge of Allegiance, with fellow former gymnast and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug, on the second night time of the 2004 Republican Nationwide Conference, which paved the way in which for George W. Bush’s re-election.

In the meantime, McIngvale has made nationwide headlines for his distinctive types of philanthropy, particularly in 2017 when he opened the doorways of his furnishings retailer to Houston residents displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey, NPR reported on the time. He let as much as 400 folks quickly dwell at each his shops, sleeping on recliners, sofas, love seats and mattresses on the market.

McIngvale additionally opened up his shops for momentary housing throughout different pure disasters within the area, together with after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, throughout floods in 2016 and in the course of the 2021 Texas energy disaster and winter storms.

In terms of Retton, McIngvale defined to TMZ that he and his spouse have a gentle spot for her. He stated he and his spouse started following her profession after she moved as a baby from West Virginia to Texas, to coach with famed ladies’s gymnastic coach Béla Károlyi and his spouse Márta.

“My spouse and I’ve all the time been an enormous help of Béla and Márta Károlyi’s gymnastics crew,” McIngvale stated. “My son labored out with them on the crew for years, my daughter did as effectively.”

“We’re thrilled to assist our Mary Lou,” McIngvale added. “We pray for her speedy restoration and, once more, I’ve lived my life by that motto — ‘the essence of dwelling is giving.’”