LOS ANGELES — Like a modern-day Willy Wonka tale, fans began to celebrate Sunday after winning coveted tickets to Michael Jackson’s memorial service at Staples Centre.
More than 1.6 million fans registered online for free in the random drawing of only 8,750 names.
Each person selected will receive two tickets to Tuesday’s memorial. 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 Theatre overflow section next door. The streets around the stadium will be closed to prevent those without tickets from trying to attend, police said Sunday.
Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell warned the ticketless to stay away: “You’ll be standing in the hot sun on a city street with a lot of other people … but not within eyeshot of Staples.”
At the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles hotel about a kilometre from the Staples Centre, more than 90 per cent of the hotel’s 1,000 rooms were booked for today and Tuesday night, up from about 60 per cent last week.
“There’s a lot of demand right now,” said spokesman Marc Loge. “We are going to sell out.”
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.
Also Sunday, a judge signed search warrants connected to the investigation of Jackson’s death, Los Angeles County Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said. The warrants were sealed and Parachini would not discuss any details.
Authorities are investigating allegations that Jackson had been consuming painkillers, sedatives and antidepressants. The powerful sedative Diprivan, which is usually administered by anesthesiologists in hospitals, was found in his home.
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.