CHICAGO (Sept. 12, 2006) -- It all started with a little trash-talking.
Randy Gonigam, a Kendall County furniture store owner and "huge Bears fan," got tired of players bragging about their defense, so he decided to put his money on it.
Over Labor Day weekend, Gonigam's World Furniture Mall in Plano offered customers free furniture -- up to $10,000 -- if the Chicago Bears shut out the Green Bay Packers in their season opener.
Four quarters, 206 customers and about $300,000 later, Gonigam is still a little shell-shocked.
"This is beyond our wildest dreams," he said.
The Bears blanked the Packers 26-0 on Sept. 10, ending Green Bay's 233-game scoring streak and giving Brett Favre the first shutout of his 16-year NFL career.
The idea that it was a long shot didn't keep him from insuring the store for up to $300,000 worth of furniture with a company that specializes in insuring prize reimbursements.
Gonigam got the idea to offer full refunds over Labor Day weekend after hearing Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher brag that the team would have the best defense in the NFL this year.
"As a Chicago sports fan, you get frustrated," he said. "I thought, 'Prove it."'
Customer and expectant mother Kathleen Spayer, 40, went back into the store Sept. 11 to make sure her $5,000 master bedroom suite was really free.
"It's the luckiest year of my life," she said.
Plano is about 45 miles southwest of Chicago.