Thousands of fans shouted, posted and tweeted with celebration as they learned they were receiving the hottest ticket in the nation to Tuesday’s Michael Jackson memorial at Staples Center.
“Congratulations, your application was successful,” said an e-mail message to Deka Motanya, 27, of San Francisco.
She immediately Twittered: “OMG OMG OMG OMG i got tickets to the michael jackson memorial service!!!”
Only 8,750 names were chosen from more than 1.6 million fans who registered online for free in the random drawing, a real-life version ofWillie Wonka’s golden tickets. Each selected person gets a pair, with the odds of being chosen about 1 in 183.
The city will scramble to prepare for the coming crowds as ticket winners head to Dodger Stadium on Monday with a unique code and instructions to pick up tickets. A wristband will be placed on each person’s wrist. Organizers will check IDs to make sure those picking up wristbands are the same people who originally applied online, saidStaples Center spokesman Michael Roth.
Fans must have both the ticket and the wristband to enter Staples Center on Tuesday. Wristbands that have been ripped, taped or tampered with will be voided.
But Roth acknowledged that high-priced scalping of the free passes was possible because winners were permitted to give anyone their second bracelet.
“Theoretically, the second wrist band can be sold,” Roth said.
Organizers were considering how to distribute any unclaimed seats, but had not immediately decided on a plan, Roth said.
The memorial service will be broadcast live on five television networks.
David Gobaud, 25, who studies computer science at Stanford University, said he didn’t believe his e-mail of acceptance was real at first. “It’s Michael Jackson, one of the greatest musical stars of all time,” he said.
Zach Moss, a 21-year-old ticket winner from Chicago who is working as a DJ in Las Vegas this summer, said clubgoers have responded strongly to Jackson’s music since his death.
“You can play two, three Michael Jackson songs back to back and people are going to have this huge jubilation celebration,” he said. “Everyone throws their drinks up and shouts, ‘MJ!’ It’s extremely powerful.”
The tickets will admit 11,000 people to the Staples Center plus 6,500 in the Nokia Theater overflow section next door. The streets around Staples Center will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said.
Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell warned the ticketless to stay away. He would not say how many police would be on the job, but alluded to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the recent championship celebration for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“You’ll be standing in the hot sun on a city street with a lot of other people,” he said. “But not within eyeshot of Staples.”
The ceremony will not be shown on Staples’ giant outdoor TV screen and there will be no funeral procession through the city. No details were available about the actual memorial events.
The joyful anticipation among the chosen fans comes as the courts continue to untangle the future of Jackson’s estate and police probe the circumstances of his death.
Jackson died at age 50 on June 25 after going into cardiac arrest in the bedroom of his rented mansion. The cause of Jackson’s death has not been determined. Autopsy results are not expected for several weeks.
Jackson’s family was planning a private ceremony at the Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, McDonnell said. He did not provide further details.