The cash value plus the interest is what creates the prize.
The US Mega Millions lottery reached almost $1 billion on Friday, the day of the drawing of what is now the second-largest lottery in US history.
Mega Millions has existed in some form since 1996.
Both games have been modified in recent years to increase jackpots.
There are still taxes to be paid on top of the winning amount but if there is a single victor, they would become richer than Taylor Swift or Elton John.
If nobody claims the Mega Millions jackpot in the required time limit - which varies state by state - each state will get the money it contributed to the jackpot back.
And then there's Friday's monster Mega Millions drawing, the largest in the game's history.
Three tickets sold in North Carolina were among the 100 $10,000 winners nationwide, lottery officials said.
"More people playing does not have an effect on an individual player's chance of winning", says Johnson.
Others buy more tickets as the jackpot grows.
The top prize keeps growing because no one has won the jackpot since July 24. The jackpot reset at $40 million for the next drawing and has been soaring ever since.
Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The jackpot goes to a victor who matches the five numbers and the Powerball number.
But when it gets close to $1 billion, even he can't resist, knowing he just bought the winning ticket. There are smaller prizes, from $4 up to $1 million, for matching some, but not all, numbers.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302 million.
You must match all five numbers plus the Mega number to win the grand prize.
Powerball made similar changes to its rules in 2015.
Seven-time lottery game grand prize victor Richard Lustig tips on his advice to win the Mega Million and Powerball jackpots.
State lottery commissions have relied on human psychology and the spirit of optimism to fuel sales.
"It really draws in what we call the infrequent player", says Johnson. Colorado Lottery spokeswoman Kelly Tabor referred to them as "jackpot chasers", as the Powerball jackpot swelled to the second largest in lottery history.
Mega Millions drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday. The estimated jackpot may be revised to account for higher ticket sales if officials see an uptick in activity before the next drawing, he said.
If someone does hit all those magic numbers they'd make lottery history.
Schlesinger said that the money spent on lottery tickets could be put to better use.