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How NOT to win the Broadway ticket lotteries

As you may know if you’ve already explored, I have a Musical Theater Bucket List. Whenever we're in New York, my mom and I try to catch a Broadway show or two, but that can get pricey, especially because I like to sit in the front half of the orchestra. Why? Maybe because I spent my teen years performing in musical theater, and so I like to be close to the action. I like to see the performers’ faces.

During a December 2016 visit to New York, we decided to try our luck at the online Broadway ticket lotteries. We would be entering to win the opportunity to purchase deeply-discounted same-day tickets to some of the top Broadway shows on my Musical Theater Bucket List. I planned to review those shows for you here on With both my mom and I entering the lotteries over the course of nine days in early December, we felt so certain that we'd win tickets to at least one show that we didn't arrange a back-up plan. We'd certainly win at least once, right?

For most shows, the locations of the Broadway ticket lottery seats aren't guaranteed (except for Hamilton, which offers seats in the front row of the orchestra), but based on the information I found online, it seems that the seats are generally very good (although some are off to the side, providing a partial view of the action at times). At prices of $40 or less for good seats, we were willing to take our chances. has a page that lists Broadway shows and their discount ticket policies. We picked three shows at the top of my Musical Theater Bucket List (Dear Evan Hansen, Matilda (note: Matilda is no longer running on Broadway), and Hamilton) and took note of their online lottery sites. page that lists Broadway shows and their discount ticket policies.

(Updated 12/2017) There are two major sites that run the online Broadway ticket lotteries: Telecharge and Broadway Direct. Telecharge runs the lotteries for Dear Evan Hansen, among other shows. Aladdin, Cats, The Lion King, Wicked, and others are with Broadway Direct. Hamilton runs their own lottery here.

Broadway Direct page listing all currently available ticket lotteries. (12/2017 Update: Broadway Direct no longer runs the Hamilton ticket lotteries. You can now enter the Hamilton ticket lottery here.)

Each lottery has their own entry periods. Winners are notified by email (and also by text message for the Telecharge lotteries if you provide your cellphone number) just after the lottery closes. If you win, you generally have 1 hour to purchase the tickets online or they are forfeited.

Here’s our experience:

Day one, Thursday, December 1st. My mom and I each entered the lottery for the Matilda evening show. (Dear Evan Hansen was still in previews and had not yet opened its lottery. We couldn’t enter the Hamilton lottery due to another commitment at the 4PM result time that would prevent us from checking our emails.) Then we waited.

Just after 3PM, we each got an email.

The subject: "Your lottery results are in."

The message:

"Sorry! Unfortunately, you were not selected for today's evening lottery. Still looking for tickets?

Tickets start at $39 for Matilda The Musical on”

Darn! But I guess I didn’t expect us to win on our first try.

The next day, Friday, December 2nd, we entered both the Matilda lottery and the Hamilton lottery.

Hamilton ticket lottery entry form page 1 of 2.

Just after 3PM, we each got a familiar email from Matilda. We didn’t win. Just after 4PM, the Hamilton emails arrived.

The subject: "HAMILTON (NY) December 2, 2016 8:00 pm Lottery Results: Try Again."

Didn’t even have to open our emails to know we lost. We opened them anyway.

The message confirmed …
“Unfortunately, you were not selected to receive tickets to the December 2, 2016 8:00 pm performance of HAMILTON (NY).
Please try entering again for a future performance.
Want to know more? Get tickets directly from the official source and learn more about HAMILTON (NY) on Broadway Direct.
Have questions? Visit our FAQ.
Thanks again for entering, and better luck next time!”

Yes, better luck next time, I hoped.

During the rest of my days in New York, our schedule was dictated by making sure we entered the appropriate lotteries at the appropriate times and checked our emails when the results were due. For those of you who like all the gory details, here is how those days played out:

Saturday, December 3rd: Entered Matilda and Hamilton lotteries for matinee shows. (We did not enter the evening lotteries due to a prior commitment.) We lost.

Sunday, December 4th: Entered Matilda lottery for matinee and evening shows. Entered Hamilton lottery for matinee show. We lost.

Monday, December 5th: All shows were dark. No lotteries.

Tuesday, December 6th: Entered Dear Evan Hansen (It was the first Dear Evan Hansen Broadway ticket lottery ever!), Matilda, and Hamilton lotteries for the evening shows. We lost all of those lotteries.

Dear Evan Hansen ticket lottery entry form page 1.

Dear Evan Hansen ticket lottery entry form page 2.

Wednesday, December 7th: Entered Matilda and Hamilton lotteries for matinee shows. Entered Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton lotteries for evening shows. We lost.

Thursday, December 8th: Entered Dear Evan Hansen, Matilda, and Hamilton lotteries for evening shows. We lost.

Friday, December 9th: Entered Dear Evan Hansen, Matilda, and Hamilton lotteries for evening show. (Actually, Mom accidentally didn’t enter the Hamilton lottery. We postulate that she forgot to click “submit” after completing the captcha.) We lost.

Saturday, December 10th, was my last full day in New York. It was with low expectations but high hopes that we entered the Matilda and Hamilton lotteries for both the matinee and evening shows. (Unfortunately, Dear Evan Hansen didn’t have a lottery to enter that day.)

The familiar lottery results emails arrived one by one. “You were not selected.” “Better luck next time!” “You were not selected.” “Better luck next time!”

Unfortunately, there would not be a next time. At least not for that trip. And Matilda is scheduled to end its Broadway run in January 2017, so we’ll have to see it on tour (or maybe at the Cambridge Theater in London's West End when Mom and I take our dream trip across the pond.)

So ... I can’t tell you what it’s like to win a Broadway ticket lottery, but I can offer some tips based on my experience.

1. If you MUST see a particular show, buy your tickets in advance. is the main online site to purchase Broadway tickets.

2. Sometimes there are discounts available for advance-purchase tickets. Here at, we’ve had success with finding discount codes at Grab these coupon codes and enter them on the official Telecharge website to receive an instant savings. Note that promo codes are not available for all shows.

3. You can try your luck at scoring discounted, same-day “rush” tickets by heading to the theater before the box office opens. lists the "rush ticket" policies for current shows here. Note that if you aren’t one of the first few people in line when the box office opens, you may not get tickets. People queue up in the early hours of the morning for some shows.

4. If you're still looking for same-day tickets and it’s just hours before showtime, head to one of the Theater Development Fund’s same-day ticket booths (TKTS). In the past, I’ve visited the Time Square TKTS booth and found amazing, fifty-percent-off deals on excellent orchestra seats. The Theater Development Fund’s official website lists currently available shows and discount percentages. If they have tickets for a show you want to see, go to one of their booths and buy your tickets in person. You cannot buy these tickets online or over the phone.

5. Play the Broadway ticket lotteries. Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean you won’t. It was actually kind of fun to play, although it was disappointing to lose.

Will I be playing the Broadway ticket lotteries next time I’m in New York? Sure I will! There are lots of shows still on my Musical Theater Bucket List. Hopefully I’ll win tickets and have some reviews to share with you here at after my next trip!

I did this in December 2016.

Jen (California, USA)