For those hoping to attend one or both of the two Kentucky memorial services for boxing great Muhammad Ali, tickets were free but had to be picked up in person at the two box offices in Louisville. Naturally ticket scalpers were also standing in those long lines and now hope to make a killing selling the tickets that were originally free on a first come basis.
Lines at both the KFC Yum! Center and Freedom Hall in Louisville were blocks long as mourners hoped to grab their four allotted tickets for the Friday services. Fans began to line up as early as 4 a.m. and earlier but many were disappointed as the tickets were all gone only an hour after the counters opened.
Still, only hours after the last tickets were handed out, auction sites such as eBay and Craigslist were already featuring sellers trying to make a buck off Ali’s passing by selling memorial service tickets that only hours earlier were free for the taking.
The Ali family is not pleased with those trying to sell tickets that were meant to be free.
As reported by NBC Sports, family spokesman Bob Gunnell denounced the profiteers.
“I’m personally disgusted and amazed that someone would try to profit off of Muhammad Ali’s memorial service,” Gunnell said.
“I hope that those buying tickets or trying to buy tickets would stop those efforts by not purchasing. Muhammad Ali wanted this to be a free event, an event that was open to all,” he added.
Gunnell also had a warning for those trying to sell tickets. “Any links to Craigslist tickets are being sent to the Secret Service who are taking care of the issue,” he said.
It isn’t clear what the Secret Service would do with such information.
As to Craigslist, many of the notices for selling Ali funeral tickets were removed after being flagged by thousands of site users upset over the sales.
The June 10 service will be a star-studded affair, for certain. Along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the speaking list will also include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and King Abdullah II of Jordan. Will Smith, who played Ali in a biopic, and Lennox Lewis, who twice held the lineal heavyweight championship thrice owned by Ali, will serve as pallbearers.
But not everyone seems to be against cashing in on Ali’s death. Sony Pictures decided to rush back into theaters the 2001 Ali biopic starring Will Smith.
“With the passing of Muhammad Ali, we have received many requests for this film to return to theaters, in celebration of his life,” Sony distribution chief Rory Bruesaid on Thursday. “The film truly honors everything that made Ali one of the central figures of our time, a man who commanded his sport but whose personal faith and principles made him mean so much more.”
The film led the Ali family to choose actor Smith as one of the boxer’s pallbearers.
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