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Record $800 Million Powerball Jackpot Is A Game Changer, Statistically Speaking05:15

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Gale Call (left) and Sherrie Haines (center) sell a Powerball ticket to Mike Nastasi (right) at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)closemore
Gale Call (left) and Sherrie Haines (center) sell a Powerball ticket to Mike Nastasi (right) at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Powerball players in 44 states - as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands - are anxiously awaiting Saturday's lottery drawing, when a record $800 million jackpot is up for grabs.

A few things change when the pot's that big, says economist Victor Matheson. More people play, of course, and maybe they should - statistically speaking it's a better bet when the pay-off is sky high. For state budgets hoping to get lucky with ticket sales, however, it's still a gamble.

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