Free Tickets for Obama's Farewell Speech in Chicago Being Sold for Thousands

The tickets are printed with text that says "not for sale or re-sale"

Hundreds of tickets for President Barack Obama's farewell speech in Chicago have made their way to the online marketplace, some being offered for thousands of dollars apiece ahead of the historic address. 

Tickets for the event were snatched up quickly when they became available Saturday morning. Thousands woke up early to line up at McCormick Place for the chance to get free tickets, which were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. So many arrived that officials announced spots were no longer available to newcomers before distribution even began. 

By Monday morning, more than 200 tickets were being sold by unverified users on Craigslist Chicago’s online marketplace, with some being auctioned for upwards of $5,000 a pair. 

Screenshot of
Tickets to President Obama's farewell address in Chicago were listed online for resale on Craigslist Monday, January 9, 2017, a day ahead of the speech.

It remains unclear, however, if those tickets are legitimate or if they can legally be sold. 

The Better Business Bureau warned hopeful attendees Monday to beware of scams surrounding the secondary ticket sales. 

"If you buy tickets to see Barak [sic] Obama's farewell address Tuesday evening in Chicago, you may be saying farewell to your hard earned money instead of the president," CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Steve Bernas said in a statement.

Bernas warned against buying the tickets online saying "there's no way to verify these tickets, and unquestionably people are going to be showing up and being turned away because of scam tickets."

Doors open at 5 p.m. Tuesday for the 8 p.m. farewell speech and attendees are encouraged to arrive at or before that time. Those arriving late may not be permitted to attend. All attendees will be subject to "airport-like security" and should bring as few personal iterms as possible. Bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liguids and signs will not be allowed in the venue. 

[NATL] White House Photographer Shares Favorite Obama Photos From 2016

For those who did not get tickets or are unable to attend, the speech will air on NBC 5 News beginning at 8 p.m. CST and will be streamed live on and the NBC Chicago app.

[NATL] Through the Years: The Obama Presidency

Contact Us