Michelle Obama’s upcoming speaking engagement in London has given new meaning to the phrase “hot ticket.” Tickets to the event, which sold out quickly, are being resold on the ticket reselling site Viagogo for up to 72,181 pounds, which is $94,665.45 USD. Worth it?
According to the website of the Southbank Centre, where the event will be taking place, it will feature Obama “in conversation about her highly anticipated new memoir, Becoming, with acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.” Some people hoping to attend the event, like comedian Ros Ballinger, found the irony of the ticket price striking: “I think it’s particular egregious for certain gigs or events. To make enormous profits off someone who’s inspirational to people historically oppressed and dedicated to public service is horribly ironic” (quoted in The Guardian).
A spokesperson for the Southbank Centre responded to the high prices with a statement:
We are aware that a small number of tickets to this event have appeared on third-party resale sites. We take secondary ticketing very seriously and aim to discourage this by stipulating that tickets should not be resold for profit or commercial gain. If we find tickets on sale without our authorisation by any unauthorised third parties they are identified and cancelled. Tickets will only be available to collect on the night and ticket holders for this event will be required to bring a form of identification.
The tickets have now been taken down, but it’s unclear if anyone was able to buy them while they were still up for grabs. Would it have been worth it to pay $70k to hear Michelle, with “honesty and lively wit,” speak for maybe an hour, “candidly recounting moments from her own extraordinary journey” and inspiring people “to become the very best version of themselves”?