Drawing nears for $685 million Mega Millions prize

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot increased to $685 million ahead of Friday night’s drawing, giving lottery players a chance to ring in the New Year with an even larger bonus in their bank account.

There have been 21 straight drawings without a jackpot winner thanks to stiff odds of one in 302.6 million. That has allowed the top prize to grow steadily larger, week after week.

The estimated $685 million prize is for a winner who chooses to be paid through an annuity, with annual checks over 29 years. Nearly all winners opt for cash, which for Friday night’s drawing would be an estimated $347.8 million.

The jackpot is the largest since a $2.04 billion Powerball prize was won Nov. 8 in California. A winner hasn’t been announced for that record-setting payout.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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