Ken Schwencke is a data journalist and co-founder of The Thrust. Previously, he's worked at The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. More from this author →
Have you seen Hamilton? Probably not. Tickets to Broadway's most talked-about show are sold out through January 2017, and the ticket lottery seems about as hard to win as the Powerball.
But what about the resale market? Perhaps you could pick up a ticket on StubHub, Craigslist or someone on a street corner (don't)?
I turned to StubHub, which I've used more than once for sold-out shows, to see how hard it would be to snag a seat.
Scanning the page for Hamilton the cheapest tickets are from the mid-$500 range, but that's the lowest-priced ticket — and without taxes and fees added in.
So what will it cost you to see the hottest show in New York? On April 8th, I copied down all of the tickets for the 25 evening shows in May. Then I ran the numbers to get a clearer picture of the thriving Hamilton market.
Warning: If you are wearing pearls, be prepared to clutch them. Though if you can afford pearls, maybe you can afford a ticket.
The median price of all the tickets in May, including taxes and StubHub fees, was just over $1,400. It varies day to day, but the majority of the tickets listed would cost more than a new 13-inch Macbook Pro.
How much of the theater is on sale?
There were about 9,700 tickets listed on the site for evening shows in May. On 21 different nights, assuming all listings were real, at least one in four of the 1,319 seats in the Richard Rogers Theater were on sale. On nine different nights, at least one in three seats were up for grabs.
The cheapest ticket in the period I examined was $620, which is a mere 5.6 times the face value of a $110 ticket. That would get you in to a Wednesday show. For the weekend, your cheapest bet would have been a $738 Friday ticket.
Most expensive ticket
The priciest seats were $6,549, ranging from two row B spots to 13 mezzanine center seats. For the same amount of money, you could book a round-trip flight for two from NYC to London ($2,120), three nights at the Four Seasons ($4,092) and still have a little spending money. Strangely, almost every day of the month had similar tickets going for $4,750.
With the median price of a seat higher than the median rent in much of the United States, tickets to the show about the immigrant first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury are now worth a mint.
This is, on some level, a study in economics. There are a limited supply of tickets, a limited number of shows and a wave of good press pushing demand higher.
Still, with so many tickets on the market and 522 listings with more than four tickets for sale, it's clear that the resale market is hot and many people are looking to make a profit. What's more, there's no way to tell if someone selling a pricey ticket has one in hand: they could "naked short", listing one they don't have in hopes of fulfilling the order with a ticket at a cheaper price. This is what happened to Super Bowl tickets in 2015.
So even though the odds aren't great, I'm off to enter the lottery again.
Notes I calculate the taxes and fees as 18% of the price of a listed ticket, which seems about right in most cases.