1.6 million Jacko fans await tickets lottery results

THE more than 1.6 million fans who registered to attend Michael Jackson’s memorial service were yesterday waiting to learn whether they were among the lucky few to win tickets for tomorrow’s ceremony in Los Angeles.

Fans registered for free on the Staples Centre website for the random draw of only 8,750 names. Each person selected would receive two tickets and would be notified by email, according to a Staples Centre news release. The odds of getting a ticket were about one in 183.

The tickets will admit 11,000 people to the Staples Centre plus 6,500 in the Nokia Theatre overflow section next door. The streets around the stadium will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said yesterday.

Fifty-year-old Jackson died 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 were 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 on Saturday in the same London arena where he was to have staged his comeback.

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell said in an interview due to be aired yesterday that Jackson had controversy in his life, but in death his art should be celebrated.

“Yes, there were some challenges in his life,” Powell told CNN’s State of the Union, which released excerpts of the interview. “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 yesterday and decided to air the service live. NBC joins ABC, CNN, MSNBC and E! Entertainment.

Before the ticket draw, officials of AEG, the owner and operator of the Staples Centre, would “scrub” the entries to eliminate duplicates and any suspected of being made by automated systems or “go-bots”, said Jackson family spokesman, Ken Sunshine.

Winners will receive a unique code and instructions on how to pick up their tickets today at an off-site distribution centre. When they pick up their tickets, a band will be placed on their wrists. Fans must have both ticket and wristband to enter Staples Centre tomorrow. Wristbands that have been ripped, taped or tampered with will be voided.

Mr Sunshine said those steps were being taken to prevent ticket-scalping.

City officials are preparing for huge crowds.

Assistant Police Chief Earl Paysinger said as many as 700,000 people may try to reach the arena, even though a wide area around Staples Centre will be sealed off to people without tickets.

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