But of course, no one plays the lottery for the expected value of a ticket. Doing so wouldn't make much sense seeing as the $1 cost of a Mega Millions ticket is designed to be more than the expected value (the house essentially always wins). But if that's the case, why were 107 million tickets purchased for the last drawing?
Economists, and our revealed preference, point to the idea that there must be a certain level of utility derived from the thrill of the game and the chance at walking away with a large jackpot. Behavioral economists, citing the foundational work from psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, would also add that humans have a tendency to overestimate low-probability events, such as winning the lottery, making any perceived expected value of a lottery ticket much higher.
The point is there are many reasons why so many make an irrational gamble. However, if you're looking to rationally maximize the worth of your irrational $1 gamble, choosing to play around now could be an economical bet.
— CNBC's Alex Rosenberg contributed to this report