I stare at my computer screen as I calculate the odds of experiencing a miracle within the week. The bold, white font that stands out from the orange background reads, “WIN ‘YOUR SHOT’ AT HAMILTON TICKETS FOR OPENING NIGHT IN CHICAGO AND AN AFTER-PARTY WITH LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA.” I realize three fundamental truths as I watch the campaign’s deadline tick down by the second.
Number one: I would realistically pay $25 to enter my name 250 times into this special lottery. Heck, maybe I would splurge with $35 to throw my name in 350 times. Nevertheless, next to donations of $2,000—equating to 20,000 entries—my contribution seems too small.
Number two: resale tickets cost upward of $500. On second thought, $35 sounds like a great deal.
Number three: despite listening to the soundtrack only three weeks ago, here I sit, a self-declared, frustrated, and helpless fan.
Pure magic pours from my speakers when the Schuyler Sisters harmonize just right. Chills run down my spine as four separate melodies merge together perfectly in “Non-Stop.” I cheer on Alexander in cabinet meetings; I conspire with Burr. Washington’s wisdom inspires me. Eliza’s strength moves me to tears. I learn every lyric, whispering to myself in the mirror. If I miss a beat or fumble the words, I start over. I invest my time and emotions in the music, but this is not enough. I want to be—I deserve to be—in the room where it happens.
I am not alone. Many Hamilton enthusiasts share my overblown sense of entitlement. Discouraged by the musical’s inaccessibility, we continue to argue that the price is too high and that New York is too far away. Despite their many philanthropic efforts, despite opening the show in Chicago, and despite sharing the entire soundtrack on iTunes and Spotify, Miranda and the producers cannot satisfy our demand.
Online, secondary-markets swipe enough tickets to increase the need and drive up ticket prices past what I can afford. The Hamilton team has tried to mitigate this capitalist reality as much as possible, and they offer various, egalitarian, economic lotteries.
In its history, Broadway has never before installed a lottery system. Hamilton by its very essence demands accessibility to all classes and all peoples. The show critiques elitism and honors hardworking go-getters. As a result, I could enter my name into an online lottery system every morning before a show in New York or Chicago. If the stars aligned, if my prayers were answered, I could win front-row tickets for that night’s performance, paying only $10.
Alas, even if I were to win this daily raffle, my wallet would take a hard hit as I book a flight to New York or Chicago on a half day’s notice. Instead, I must rely on another option offered by the Hamilton crew for the opening night in Chicago. This campaign is a fundraiser, and my chances of winning grow as I donate more money. Although the winning ticket covers travel and a hotel stay, this strategy does not follow Hamilton’s ethics of equality and pulls at the wallets of fans, both rich and poor. Ironically, the fundraiser supports Hamilton’s Educational Program, allowing public high school students the chance to see and study Hamilton for no more than $10. It robs fans for a good cause.
Looking back at the campaign’s countdown, I notice I have only two hours to donate. A small glimmer of optimism teases and encourages me to spend the $35. Alexander’s words echo in my head: you don’t get a win unless you play in the game. I convince myself that I have a shot at winning the draw. A sharp burst of pragmatism interrupts my fantasy, reminding me that Hamilton is a business. The more money they can take from me, the better. I am disappointed, knowing that winning a ticket would take a miracle. Simultaneously, I respect the success and popularity of Hamilton.
I set my pride aside as I share this musical with the rest of the nation. I input my name to wait with other fans, praying it is finally my shot to see the infamous “A. Ham.”