This article, Mega Millions madness puts Americans' love for dreaming big on display, originally appeared on CBSNews.com
Millions have lined up across the country for their chance to strike it rich in Friday night's historic $1 billion jackpot. However, CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger points out some people don't necessarily play to win.
"They just want to take a moment out of their day to consider how to dream big," Schlesinger said. And Americans love doing just that.
About two-thirds of Americans gamble. Last year, they spent $72.97 billion on traditional lottery tickets, according to Gallup.
On average, that's $206.69 per person. "Our obsession with lotteries, with gambling, is that unicorn feeling of, like, 'maybe it'll be me,'" Schlesinger said.
"CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Dana Jacobson reports that whoever takes home the cash payout of $565 million could buy a room of — no need to pick a color. They would also have enough left over to buy the same room for 645 of their closest friends.
What to do if you win the lottery
The Mega Millions jackpot -- which increased Friday afternoon from $970 million to $1 billion -- is the game's largest ever and the second-largest lottery in history. There's also a $430 million drawing Saturday.
Last year, Mega Millions bumped its minimum jackpot up to $40 million and increased the number of balls from 15 to 25. The result: larger prizes and increased odds.
The chance of winning jumped from 1 in roughly 258 million to 1 in 302 million this drawing. For perspective, players are more than 25,000 times more likely to shoot a hole-in-one on the golf course.
Schlesinger said that the money spent on lottery tickets could be put to better use. "Instead of spending $200 a year on lottery tickets, maybe we could encourage people to say, 'OK, why not spend 10 or 20 bucks a year?'" she said.
"Take the rest of the money and maybe pay down some outstanding credit card bills," she said. "I don't want to take away your dream. I just want to limit it."