A complete guide to the Hamilton lottery
Take your shot at winning $10 tickets in the digital lottery for Hamilton on Broadway, in Chicago and beyond
By Adam Feldman Posted: Friday January 17 2020
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is not just one of the best Broadway shows of our time, with 11 Tony Awards to its name: It’s a bona fide crossover cultural phenomenon. But since everyone wants to be in the room where it happens, cheap tickets are nearly impossible to score. Here’s how you can get them with just $10, a dream and a whole lot of patience.
THE TEN-DOLLAR FOUNDING FATHER
At each performance of Hamilton on Broadway, 46 seats in the first and second rows are distributed through a digital lottery. In Chicago, 44 seats are distributed that way. In both cases, those seats cost just $10. Approximately 40 $10 lottery tickets are also available for each of the musical’s two national tours.
I WAS POOR, I KNEW IT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO RISE UP!
For many people, this digital lottery may be the only way to see Hamilton. The show’s average ticket price on Broadway hovers just under $300, and premium seats cost $849—but even those tickets are almost all sold out, and on the resale market the prices can be even higher.
BUT YOU DON’T GET A WIN UNLESS YOU PLAY IN THE GAME
To enter the Hamilton lottery, go to the Broadway lottery page or the Chicago lottery page. For national-tour performances, find your city on the general lottery landing page. Timing is key: Each lottery opens at 11am two calendar days before the day of show (whether it’s a matinee or an evening show), and closes at 9am on the day before the show. You can only enter once per performance, but on dates with two performances you are allowed to enter for both of them. (Note that these deadlines have changed several times since the lottery debuted in 2016.)
GRAB A FRIEND, THAT’S YOUR SECOND
You can enter the lottery for either one or two seats. Always enter it for two. A friend you bring to Hamilton will be a friend for life.
I’M NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT
The lottery is held shortly after the window closes for entries at 9am on the day before the show. Notifications are sent at approximately 11am . If you win, take a moment to freak out, but then act fast! You only have until 4pm to confirm your purchase and pay for your tickets. If you don’t do it within that five-hour window, you waste your shot.
SCHUYLER’S SEAT WAS UP FOR GRABS, SO I TOOK IT
Sorry, but no: Winning tickets are nontransferable. If you can’t use your tickets, no one else can.
WEAPON IN MY HAND, A COMMAND
Your smart phone can make the whole process even easier, thanks to the free Hamilton App, which streamlines the submission process by saving the personal details on your lottery entry. As a bonus, the app has perks like Hamilton trivia and Hamilton karaoke. (If you don’t like using apps, or have trouble seeing details on small screens, you can also take advantage of autofill if you use the Chrome browser.)
JUST YOU WAIT, JUST YOU WAIT…
We’re not going to sugarcoat this: Your chances of winning the Hamilton lottery are slender. In 2016, Broadway Direct estimated that there were 10,000 entries for each performance. If that’s still roughly accurate, then your odds of winning—since most people enter for pairs—are about 1 in 400. Get used to finding “Lottery Results: Try Again” emails in your inbox.
THERE’S HOPE FOR OUR ASS, AFTER ALL!
If at first you don’t succeed, try again and again and again and again. Although 1-in-400 odds aren’t great, statistics tells us that if you enter for every performance, eight times a week, then you have about an 88% chance of winning at some point in the next two years.
YOU COULD NEVER BE SATISFIED. GOD, I HOPE YOU’RE SATISFIED
Odds of winning a ‘Hamilton’ ticket are bleak, but not as bad as you think
Every day, we get online, look our computers in the screens, aim no higher, summon all the courage we require, then suffer the humiliation of losing our chance to see Hamilton on Broadway.
Despite our better logic, we’ll never be satisfied until our names are finally called for those coveted tickets. And while the odds of winning a Hamilton lottery ticket are rare, they’re not as bad as you think.
Let’s break it down
There are currently two ways to get Hamilton tickets, aside from shelling out hundreds of dollars for nosebleed seats: the live, #Ham4Ham lottery that happens at the theater and the online lottery that opens at 9 a.m. EST on Broadway Direct.
Both ways offer $10 tickets (a Hamilton for a Hamilton), and while the live lottery is a unique experience that any theater lover should experience, those of us with demanding day jobs often opt for the online lottery.
Taking a look at the numbers at first glance, they definitely look bleak. But do not throw away your shot.
According to the Hamilton Lottery FAQ page, over 10,000 people enter the online lottery every single day. But there is reason to hope, because the show gives out 21 tickets every day as well, significantly increasing your odds of winning.
There is one other x factor: each entry can be for either one or two tickets. We can’t necessarily know for sure how many tickets people are purchasing once they win, so we can assume it is anywhere between the two sums:
If 21 tickets are awarded to different, single entries (21 total), the odds of people winning are 476 to one.
If 21 tickets are awarded to 10 two-ticket and one single-ticket entries (11 total), the odds of people winning are 909 to one.
Here is a chart to see how these sums add up amongst other unlikely statistics you might run into in your lifetime, lovingly decorated with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s face to soothe your weary soul:
Image: bob al-greene, mashable
Across social media, we joke, cry, complain and sometimes rage about the futility of winning a ticket, but when you look at the numbers, it could be a lot worse.
In plain terms: you should finish that best seller you’ve been working on. However, you can probably relax around vending machines.
If you’re really looking forward to being a game show contestant or writing a great American novel, you should be trying to do that just as much as you’re trying to win a chance to see Hamilton — and the odds, mathematically at least, say you’ll succeed as one of these things.
Or, if you ever hear someone say, “you’re more likely to be struck by lightning that winning a ticket to Hamilton,” you now have clear evidence that that is decidedly not true.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because the odds are stacked against you doesn’t mean you can’t be victorious. People write best sellers, date millionaires, win Oscars and have vending machines fall on them every day.
Even Alexander Hamilton would remind you: the odds were stacks against the Revolution as well. If that doesn’t inspire you to continue putting your name into an online form at 9 a.m. every day, nothing will.
So go ahead, use your apps, charms, positive thinking or whatever rituals you do to keep hope alive, and enter the lottery. Take your shot. History has its eyes on you.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.We'll never be happy until we're finally called for those coveted tickets. But the odds of winning a Hamilton lottery ticket are not as bad as you think. ]]>