American Morning

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July 6th, 2009
10:30 AM ET

Two Michael Jackson fans beat the 1-in-182 odds

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Montanya (left) couldn't believe her luck after winning the coveted Michael Jackson memorial tickets."]

More than a million people signed up online to say good-bye to the king of pop. One-point-six million fans thought they hey had no shot. Late last night close to 9,000 die hard Michael Jackson fans got the e-mail they were hoping for, saying they'd won two tickets to the star-studded tribute at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Two fans who beat the one-in-182 odds, Deka Montanya and Nick Manousos spoke with CNN’s Alina Cho and Kiran Chetry Monday.

Watch the interview »

Alina Cho: I should mention, Deka that you are the lucky winner and Nick is the boyfriend of the lucky winner so you get to go Nick. I just want to say, Deka I read your twitter post here, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG I got tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial service. Does that pretty much sum up how you feel about this?

Deka Montanya: Yeah, I didn't quite know what to think. I opened the e-mail, I showed it to Nick and I was like is this real? We just stared at it for a minute. And then Nick’s like oh my gosh. I twittered it because I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what else to say. Just oh m gosh oh my gosh I got it. It wasn't expected. It was completely unexpected.

Chetry: So now you guys have to kick it into high gear, make your plans, figure out how to get down there. You're in San Francisco; you've got to get down to LA. I’m sure flights aren’t easy t o come by. There's going to be a lot of people flying into LAX. How are you planning on get there?

Manousos: That was one of the first things we did once we verified the email was actually real. We looked online and we got some good flights with southwest. Luckily there's tons of flights from San Francisco to L.A. daily on Southwest. It wasn't that big of a deal for us. I guess we got it before the big rush happened.

Cho: Well, lucky for you guys, you guys are in San Francisco, if you couldn't get a flight, you could drive there. And Deka, I have to ask you, there are so many people who are Michael Jackson fans but you went to the next level and you're going to make that trek to the memorial service. What is it about Michael Jackson that made you want to be there in person at the memorial service?

Montanya: Well, he's just been such a big part of my life. Growing up, he's always been around and his music's always been a part of my life and he just represents joy and happiness, no matter what club you’re in or what party you're in. If someone plays Michael Jackson, everyone is really happy and starts dancing. It’s a way to connect with people. And I remember just as a kid his music videos being such a big event and my whole family would get together, like when “Remember the Time” came out or “Black and White”’ video, it was a network premiere, everything would stop to watch Michael Jackson’s videos. It was always such a big deal and it just always makes me so happy.

Chetry: It's interesting that you say "Thriller." It was the first album I ever purchased. I remember saving money for it and there are those great memories. But in the later years of his life, things seem to change for Michael. And those around him say that there was sadness there and here we have this memorial with hundreds of thousands of people for this is a man who at times felt so lonely. Do you think he knew how loved he was? And do you think he was able to find his own happiness despite all of the fame and everything that came with it?

Montanya: Well, I hope so. I don't know. Even when he was going through the trial, he still had fans that were out there every day supporting him. I hope he still felt how much he meant to people and how much he affected people. I don't know, we didn't hear any interviews or see any interviews with him towards the end. I hope he found some peace. But just what we’ve seen on TV, it seemed like he was going through a lot of things and had a lot of pressure and stress that most people wouldn't be able to handle. I just hope he had some peace and he knew how much he was loved.

Cho: Well, 17,500 tickets being handed out, 8,750 pairs, you got one of them. Let’s hope you’re in the Staples Center. I know that 11,000 of you will be in the Staples Center. Another 6,500 will be in the overflow area across the street at the Nokia center. But either way, I’m sure you'll be glad to be there tomorrow.

Montanya: Yeah, we're going to get there early.

See other ticket winners »

Filed under: American Morning • Entertainment
soundoff (One Response)
  1. regina

    my name is regina – I met michael jackson when i was 7yrs old in richmond va at a record store where he signed my picture ,it was such an exciting day for me. I've always remembered that and now he's gone it has become even more treasured. I loved his music and the way he entertained. michael would always give his best. i will miss he. his death has touched my heart so deeply. more than what i thought it would, it's like i have lost a good friend. i feel like we all grew up together with michael and that's why i think it's so painful. i hope today will bring closure to this so i can move on. i can only imagine what his family is going though. we will miss you michael and we loved your music. Regina

    July 7, 2009 at 9:33 am |