Drawing nears for $685 million Mega Millions prize

FILE - A customer fills out a Mega Millions lottery ticket at a convenience store in Northbrook, Ill., on Jan. 6, 2021. The holiday shopping season, for Mega Millions lottery ticket buyers, at least, is ramping up as officials say the estimated jackpot for the drawing the night of Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, has surpassed half a billion dollars. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DES MOINES, Iowa – 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.