Michelle Obama is loved and celebrated the world over, so the frenzy surrounding her upcoming memoir, Becoming, is no surprise. But no one could have predicted just how much public interest there'd be in catching an IRL glimpse of the former first lady in London.
Tickets to a talk with Obama and award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at London's Royal Festival Hall next month sold out within minutes this morning, with people on social media saying there were more than 60,000 people ahead of them in the queue.
Obama will be appearing at the 2,900-seat venue to discuss her memoir, in which she recounts her experiences of childhood, motherhood, her eight years living "at the world's most famous address", and the life lessons she's gleaned along the way.
Tickets have been spotted for sale on the controversial online marketplace Viagogo for more than £70k – more than 570 times their face value, the Guardian reported. A spokesperson for the Southbank Centre said it had asked the site to remove the tickets, but they were still available on Thursday afternoon.
After setting up multiple devices and rallying the troops to no avail, thousands of fans were understandably disappointed to have missed out. But at least they were good-humoured about it on social media.
I have three devices queuing up for the Michelle Obama event at the Southbank Centre.— Davida (@davalynx) November 8, 2018
Device 1 is in 966th place.
Device 2 is in 28,100th place.
Device 3 is in 42,167th place.
If I don't get in, I just want the records to reflect that I tried, yea? Okay, thanks.
Many couldn't believe the audacity of the touts flogging them on ticket resale websites for multiple thousands.
While others, once they realised all hope was lost, decided to take desperate measures, calling on white people with tickets to "cure racism" by giving them up, and some even putting in a word with the former president himself.
There's now a petition calling on the Southbank Centre to livestream the event, and women's groups are urging it to do the same. Fingers crossed that fans without £70k to spare will get a share of the action.