Yes, Wicked is still doing their lottery system for tickets in 2023. The Wicked lottery allows people to enter for a chance to purchase tickets to the Broadway musical at affordable prices. The lottery has been a popular way for Wicked fans to get access to the in-demand show for over 15 years now. Here’s a quick overview of how the Wicked lottery works and some key details for those looking to try their luck.
How the Lottery System Works
The Wicked lottery offers a limited number of orchestra seats for every performance at just $30 each. On the day of each show, people who are interested can submit their names into an actual physical lottery drum located outside the Gershwin Theatre where Wicked plays. Two hours before curtain, names are drawn from the drum and those whose names are called have the opportunity to purchase up to two orchestra seats each for $30 cash. There can be long lines to submit entries into the drum on popular performance dates, but entering the lottery does not guarantee a ticket. It is entirely based on chance.
Key Lottery Details
- You must be present and have valid photo ID when names are drawn to claim seats
- There are 32 orchestra seats sold through the lottery for each performance
- Lottery entries are accepted beginning 2.5 before showtime
- You may enter once per person
- Winners pay $30 cash per ticket upon being called
- Tickets are subject to availability; there are no exchanges or refunds
The Wicked lottery happens every day there is a performance, including matinees. It provides an affordable way to access the show, though seats are limited. Many devote fans make entering the lottery part of their Broadway routine in hopes of winning.
History of the Wicked Lottery
The Wicked lottery has been running since the musical first opened on Broadway in October 2003. When the show debuted, producers quickly realized how incredibly high demand was for tickets. With prime orchestra seats fetching $100 or more even back then, they wanted a way to make a portion of seats accessible to fans who couldn’t afford huge ticket prices.
Inspiration from RENT
The idea for the Wicked lottery actually came from another massively popular Broadway musical – RENT. When RENT opened on Broadway in 1996, it implemented its own lottery system also offering a limited number of $20 tickets at the box office on the day of each show. The RENT lottery gave exposure to a new audience and allowed enthusiastic young fans to experience the buzzed about rock musical.
When Wicked mania swept Broadway just a few years later, producers adopted the lottery model. Since RENT had paved the way, a lottery system was not quite as risky or unconventional. Plus, they knew how successful it had been.
Wicked Lottery Debuts in 2003
Sure enough, when Wicked debuted its lottery with 32 orchestra seats available at $25 each day, it was an immediate hit. Diehard fans were suddenly able to afford to see the show multiple times. Word spread quickly on Broadway message boards about entering the lottery, which became a routine habit for Wicked devotees.
Producers have said the Wicked lottery accounted for over 7,000 ticket sales in its first year alone. That equates to over $175,000 in revenue, a huge boost, especially considering lottery entrants are often new audience members. The lottery allowed Wicked to build up its fanbase during the early years.
Evolution to Today’s $30 Price
The Wicked lottery has undergone some minor changes over its nearly 20 year history. Most notably, the ticket price has increased – though only slightly. Starting at $25 in 2003, lottery tickets eventually rose to $27, and today cost $30. Considering how dramatically Broadway ticket prices have risen over the past two decades, the lottery remains an incredible bargain.
A few rules and procedures have been tweaked as well, though the core concept remains the same. One recent change was switching from handwritten entries to digital submissions via email. This has helped streamline the process a bit. However, the famous lottery drum remains onsite for that old school, exciting element.
Why a Lottery System Works Well for Wicked
There are a few key reasons why a lottery system was smart for Wicked specifically and has enabled it to thrive for so many years:
High Ticket Demand
Broadway hit musicals often sell out quickly. But Wicked’s popularity surpassed expectations. As Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, demand drastically exceeds availability. The lottery offers at least some access.
Fans return to see Wicked multiple times, fueling repeat lottery entries. Devotees get hooked and keep coming back hoping to win again. Other shows do not necessarily foster the same repeat business.
Reliable Supply of Entries
With so many obsessed fans who know the lottery inside and out, there is always a crowded drum full of entries. This ensures the supply meets the limited availability so that all 32 seats can be sold through the drawings each day.
Good Audience Mix
Lottery winners are often people new to Broadway or Wicked. This infuses the audience with energy and fresh reactions. The mix of diehard and new fans creates a great vibe.
Positive Brand Awareness
The lottery generates incredible goodwill for Wicked. Fans feel they have an affordable chance to see an otherwise expensive show, building immense loyalty. It gets people talking about Wicked online and off.
Lottery Ticket Resale Market
Given how in-demand Wicked lottery tickets are, a secondary market has emerged for reselling them. There are a few key factors in play:
Rules Around Resale
Technically, Wicked lottery tickets are not supposed to be resold. However, this is impossible to enforce. The show can only limit the initial sale. What happens after is out of their control.
Prime Seats at Low Price
Because $30 orchestra seats would otherwise cost $200+ for a regular sale, the huge gap in perceived value motivates resale at a markup. Fans jump at paying $100+ for seats that seem heavily discounted compared to normal prices.
Savvy resellers realize the imbalance between supply and demand. They aim to get the seats for $30 and flip them quickly for a nice profit given intense buyer interest. It’s easy money.
Popular online marketplaces like Craigslist make it easy to list and sell the seats. Social media groups also facilitate transactions. eBay banned Broadway ticket resale after altitude from shows.
Hard to Thwart Resale Attempts
In early years, Wicked imposed ID check requirements and signs warning winners not to resell. But this became burdensome. There was also backlash over ID checks. Now the show turns a blind eye.
Pros and Cons of the Lottery System
The Wicked lottery has plenty of advantages but some definite downsides as well:
- Generates fan goodwill and loyalty
- Provides affordable access to high demand show
- Incents repeat business and attendance
- Brings in new audiences
- Creates exciting, energetic crowd dynamic
- Drives positive word of mouth
- Provides revenue with little overhead cost
- Ability for winners to resell tickets
- Requires staffing of line/drum during day
- Can encourage ticket hoarding mentality
- Hits revenue if regular tickets not selling out
- Line crowds can be rowdy
- Resold tickets foster audience distrust
- Hard to enforce rules around valid IDs
There’s no doubt the lottery comes with headaches for the Wicked team. But overall, the pros seem to far outweigh the cons based on the lottery’s longevity and popularity.
Why Fans Love the Lottery System
It’s obvious why the Wicked lottery is so beloved by fans:
Chance at Hot Tickets
The opportunity to get seats that normally sell for $250 or more for just $30 is too good to pass up. Fans jump at the shot.
Sense of Community
Fans line up together each day, fostering friendships and a community experience around the lottery ritual.
Winning feels like winning the actual lottery! The drum adds suspense. Checking email for results provides anticipation.
Facilitates Repeat Visits
Fans can afford to see the show more times, allowing them to pick up on new details and nuances.
$30 to see one of the world’s most popular shows is an incredible deal. The discount makes Wicked accessible.
Fair Chance at Tickets
Everyone has the same odds in the lottery. It’s not biased towards higher income fans who can afford premium seats.
No Broker Fees
Unlike buying marked up tickets from resellers, the lottery allows directly buying from the box office at face value.
Ultimately, the lottery makes seeing Wicked possible and fun for devoted fans each day. It’s ingeniously integrated into the show’s identity and brand.
Lottery Alternatives Explored
Over 20 years, Wicked producers have occasionally reconsidered or explored modifying the lottery system:
Online Lottery Entry
For some time, fans could enter the lottery remotely online rather than in person. However, producers found the drum crowds and in person experience created an energy and community they wanted to maintain.
They have considered a weighted lottery that favors those who have entered more times without winning. However, the simplicity and fairness of the existing system has stayed in place.
VIP Booster Option
At one point, they tested letting people pay $5 for additional lottery entries to increase odds of winning. But this led to backlash over fairness.
Digital Lottery Selection
Briefly toying with abandoning the physical drum in favor of digital selection, they found the tangible drum too iconic to eliminate. The digital evolution has solely focused on streamlining entry collection.
Enable lottery tickets to be transferred or resold officially could allow some portion of upside from the secondary market. But the team has shied away from openly enabling resale.
Data shows fans would likely pay more than $30, allowing revenue optimization through dynamic pricing. However, the fixed price preserves accessibility.
For now, the core lottery mechanics remain intact. The producers seem to take the view of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when making any changes.
Lottery Impact on Wicked’s Business
Although only a small portion of seats, the Wicked lottery has significantly impacted overall business:
|Total Estimated Lottery Tickets Sold Per Year
|Revenue from 80,000 Lottery Seats at $30 Price Point
$2.4 million per year in incremental revenue is generated through the lottery based on back of the envelope estimates.
The lottery provides viral, word of mouth marketing at no advertising cost. Fans spread buzz about enter the lottery.
Staff are required to manage the drum and crowds for 2+ hours before each show, adding payroll costs.
The influx of superfans from the lottery amplifies the energy and vibe of performances.
Wicked is able to reach over 80,000 new audience members each year through the lottery who otherwise may not have attended.
The lottery has a hand in driving over $100 million in annual Broadway ticket sales and maintaining Wicked’s average 101% capacity on Broadway.
Future Outlook for Lottery
As long as Wicked continues its Broadway run, the lottery system seems here to stay:
Experts predict Wicked has at least another 5-10 years left going strong on Broadway based on consistent sales and popularity.
National Tour Lotteries
The lottery has expanded to most of Wicked’s touring productions across the US and in other countries offering a similar number of low priced seats by lottery.
Minor evolutions may happen but the core of in person entries and physical drum drawings will remain. Digital shift focuses on entry collection.
The $30 price tag will likely see incremental increases over time but should not impact demand. If anything, higher prices incent more resale.
Monitoring Resale Market
Producers may explore ways to allow official resale through box office channels if unable to curtail external resale. But no major overhauls expected.
Barring a sudden shut down, the lottery provides a solid ongoing channel to generate revenue, energize fans, and maintain awareness. Wicked’s legacy on Broadway seems unbreakable, sustained in part by the iconic lottery system.
After nearly 20 years, the Wicked lottery system remains a vibrant institution and case study for incentivizing engagement. The lottery enables die hard fans to access difficult to obtain tickets, fosters community, and reduces the barriers between lead producers and their most passionate audience members. It fuels the Wicked fandom in a way that benefits both fans and producers. The lottery ritual, familiar drum, and chance at hot tickets keeps devotees coming back. It has become ingrained into the Wicked Broadway brand. Despite some drawbacks like resale issues, the lottery earns revenue, energizes crowds, and generates priceless word of mouth. As long as Wicked defies gravity on Broadway, the lottery system will likely continue granting wishes to fans hoping to be one of the lucky 32 to win $30 seats each show.