The current Mega Millions jackpot is the fifth time that the prize has grown to more than $1 billion. “Big numbers attract more attention—if you're more likely to see it in the news, you're more likely to say ‘maybe I'll give it a chance,'” says Yakov Bart, associate professor of marketing. “It creates free advertising for the lotteries.” But this effect is likely to fade as these large jackpots become more common. As the advertised price of jackpots is based on the value of the prize once invested in portfolio bonds over 30 years, so interest rate hikes have accelerated the growth of these lottery pots.

Bart won't be buying a ticket for this game, as he says “I understand the negative return on the investment.”

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