WASHINGTON - Tickets to the inaugural balls were supposed to go on sale Monday, but they sold out even before they were officially on sale.
Ticketmaster acknowledges the mistake.
A series of emails to interested parties from the vendor Sunday tells the tale.
People who signed up so they could try to buy tickets got an email at 3:28 p.m. Sunday from Ticketmaster saying to look for another email on Monday, Jan. 7. Monday's email would provide specific purchase information through a unique link.
Sunday's email warned that availability would be limited, that not everyone could be guaranteed a ticket and said people should watch for Monday's email and then try for tickets as soon as possible.
However, the starting-gun email to the ticket race fired early. It went out at 7:26 p.m. Sunday. That timing wasn't particularly friendly to people watching the end of the Redskins-Seahawks game.
Ticket hopeful Jess Livoti-Morales tweeted about the sell-out:
Tell me that Inauguration Tickets didn't sell out in six minutes? SIX MINUTES?!— Jess Livoti-Morales (@JessLivMo) January 7, 2013
Sunday evening she and her friends then exchanged a flurry of tweets about their failed attempts to purchase ball tickets in the minutes following the email alert.
Ticketmaster subsequently sent an email taking "responsibility for the mistake."
As early as 6 a.m. Monday, the official website for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2013 stated no tickets were available.
"The Presidential Inaugural Committee has made a limited number of tickets for The Inaugural Ball available online to the general public on a first-come, first- served basis. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming demand, tickets are no longer available," the site said.
When asked about the mistake, the Presidential Inaugural Committee sent WTOP the following two-paragraph statement:
"On Sunday evening, Ticketmaster experienced a technical error that inadvertently caused an email to go out ahead of schedule to people who had signed up for Inaugural ticketing information with an invitation to purchase public tickets for The Inaugural Ball and the Inaugural Parade. The Ticketmaster website was overwhelmed, slowing the purchasing process. Ticketmaster has taken responsibility for this mistake.
"However, a significant number of public tickets to both The Inaugural Ball and the Inaugural Parade were purchased this evening, despite the early email. This is consistent with the Presidential Inaugural Committee's announcement that a limited number of public tickets would be available on a first come, first-served basis. Ticketmaster will be in touch with additional information on ticket sales."
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