Tickets for Obama farewell speech selling for thousands on eBay, Craigslist

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A day before President Barack Obama gives his farewell speech in Chicago, free tickets to the event are selling for upwards of $5,000 on eBay and Craigslist.

Others are offering to trade things such as "Hamilton" musical tickets for the tickets that were doled out for free. Hundreds of tickets were on sale online, most selling for at least $300.

Allison Ward's creativity paid off. She offered a 40-inch TV in exchange for a ticket, and got a buyer via Craigslist Monday afternoon. "I am having them send me photos of their tickets so I can check them out and their barcodes before we meet up in person, so I can be safe about it," she said.

President Obama's speech begins at 8 p.m. CST and can be viewed live on ABC7, the ABC7 website and the ABC7 news app.

Early Saturday, thousands stood in line during single-digit temperatures for a chance to get tickets. Many did not get tickets. The White House did not disclose how many tickets were given away.

"Some of the prices seem pretty crazy, but then again it's for the president, last time speaking," said Kelly Parker, who did not get a ticket despite standing in line for the tickets. She said she's upset that people are trying to make a quick buck on those genuinely wanting to see the president speak.

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Hundreds of tickets were on sale online, most selling for at least $300.

Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau warns against buying tickets online. Steve Bernas, of the BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said "there's no way to verify these tickets." He said he guarantees "someone will be turned away on Tuesday." The BBB asks that anyone who was sold a fake to ticket to contact them.
Ticket brokers said they would never sell these free tickets because it's illegal. Doing so could jeopardize their broker's license, result in fines and potentially lead to misdemeanor charges.


The speech will be held at the McCormick Place in Chicago's South Loop. The Museum Campus, including the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium, will close early to ease traffic and security procedures.

The CTA will have extra buses and Green Line trains for people attending the speech.

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Interview: Obama Speechwriter Cody Keenan, a Chicagoan who's worked with the president since his inauguration.


President Obama and his speech writing team are expected to work on the speech until early Tuesday morning, according to the White House. The speech is not expected to be a list of accomplishments, but a talk about the nation's immediate future following a divisive election.

Obama' speechwriter Cody Keenan recently gave some insight about the farewell speech. Keenan, a Lakeview native and Northwestern University graduate, has written thousands of speeches for Obama and helping with the farewell address.

"He is always very involved in the process," Keenan said. "His edits are meticulous. If he doesn't like something he will tell you why. ... He doesn't go for the pithy soundbite he doesn't go for the bumper sticker line, something put in posterity for a larger argument."

In an interview with ABC7 last week, Keenan said Obama will remind Americans that they have the power to make a difference. He admits writing for a president who is already a great writer is a challenge.

"Writing for him is a wonderful struggle you always trying to first draft to impress him," Keenan said.
David Axelrod, a former Obama senior advisor, said Monday that he believes the address will talk about the state of a fractured democracy and where the nation goes from here.

"I hope he speaks to the challenges he faces that is something all Americans care about what ever political affiliation," Axelrod said.

This trip back to Chicago is expected to be the president's last outside of Washington, D.C., as well as his last ride on Air Force One as president.

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President Obama is expected to talk Tuesday about the nation's future following the divisive election.

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