1.6M Jackson fans learn who won memorial tickets
July 5, 2009
LOS ANGELES – Who’s getting the tickets?
Like a modern-day Willy Wonka tale, more than 1.6 million fans waited to learn Sunday whether they were among the lucky few to win access to Michael Jackson’s memorial service at Staples Center on Tuesday.
Fans registered online for free in the random drawing of only 8,750 names. Each person selected will receive two tickets.
Ticket winners were in the process of being notified Sunday afternoon, according to Michael Roth, a spokesman for Staples Center owner AEG Live.
The odds of getting a ticket were about 1 in 183.
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 the stadium will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said Sunday.
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The 50-year-old Jackson died 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, LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said. He did not provide further details.
More than a week after his death, tributes and accolades keep coming. Madonna had a Jackson impersonator dance to “Wanna Be Starting Something” at her concert Saturday in the same London arena where he was to stage his comeback.
Colin Powell said in an interview aired Sunday that Jackson had controversy in his life, but in death his art should be celebrated.
“Yes, there were some challenges in his life,” the former secretary of state told CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”Yes, there was a great deal of controversy about him. But he’s now passed on. Let’s celebrate his art.”
The memorial service will be broadcast on five television networks, after NBC executives changed their minds Sunday and decided to air the service live. NBC joins ABC, CNN, MSNBC and E! Entertainment.
Before the ticket drawing, officials of AEG, the owner and operator of the Staples Center, will “scrub” the entries to eliminate duplicates and any suspected of being made by automated systems, Jackson family spokesman Ken Sunshine said in a statement.
Winners received a unique code and instructions on how to pick up their tickets Monday at an off-site distribution center. When they pick up their tickets, a wristband will be placed on their wrists.
To prevent ticket scalping, 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.
City officials are preparing for huge crowds. Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell 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.
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 given about the actual memorial events.