Gardiners Furniture might be eating its Super Bowl bet but couldn't be happier about it.

Gary Mullaney, co-owner of the Baltimore chain, said Monday that his phone has been ringing off the hook and reporters have been clamoring for interviews since an improbable offer came true. Gardiners told customers all furniture bought between Jan. 31 and 3 p.m. on the day of the game would be free if the Baltimore Ravens returned a kick for a touchdown during Sunday evening's Super Bowl.

And then Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown to open the second half, forcing the store to give away $600,000 in furnishings.

"This morning has just been crazy," Mullaney says. "People are hearing about this all over the country."

Mullaney said he was watching the game at home with his family when Jones started his run toward the end zone. He was on his feet. He was jumping. He was screaming.

"Just beyond belief," he says.

Good thing he'd taken out an insurance policy — just in case.

The policy cost Gardiners about $12,000, Mullaney says. Though that's a good bit of money, Mullaney is chalking it up as an advertising investment — and the amount of attention that's come Gardiners' way since the bet has been priceless.

This is the third year the store has run such a promotion. The intention is to get people thinking about furniture during a weekend when almost no one is.

"We're not a bar. We're not a restaurant. During the Super Bowl, no one says, 'Hey let's go to the furniture store,'" Mullaney explained. "It was just our small way of being able to participate in the hoopla."

Diana Do, a Baltimore mother of three and a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was thrilled to find out that the $4,000 worth of children's bedroom furniture she bought Saturday night would be free. She'd bought the dressers, nightstands, mattresses and a bed for her three girls, who are all under the age of 2. It was her first time shopping at Gardiners.

And until she got a call from the store on Monday, she'd forgotten all about the promotion in the excitement of the game and daily routine with the babies.

"It was just a complete surprise and a shock to us," Do said. "This is just icing on the cake, to win something for us and for the city of Baltimore to win the Super Bowl."

Gardiners was fielding calls Monday from people who wanted to claim their rebates — and a few from folks trying to finagle free furniture who didn't buy any over the weekend.

Store officials said they would give money back only to people with stamped receipts — and only once their insurance paperwork goes through.

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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