For years, acquiring a ticket to a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football game has been among the toughest gets in all of sports.
In an effort to handle the demand and keep the university's deep-pocketed alumni happy, officials have created a unique drawing to ensure as many of those alums as possible get to see at least one game each season.
For a contribution of between $100 and $200, graduates enter a per-game lottery for the right to buy tickets at face value. Fans not fortunate enough to have graduated from Notre Dame, however, must fork over a minimum contribution of $1,500 to enter the same lottery.
Each order is assigned a random number, which is run through an algorithm that, based on the quantity of tickets available for that game, determines a win range and how many folks are going to receive tickets.
“We'd love our alumni to win two or three games a year. Now they're winning sometimes one, sometimes two,” said Josh Berlo, Notre Dame's director of ticket operations.
For this week's home game against USC, fans requested more than 60,000 tickets for the 30,000 available seats in the lottery. Fans who apply for those tickets have to pay for them in advance, meaning the school holds onto the money for six months.
“Last year we refunded $8.6 million dollars,” Berlo said. “We had an excess demand for football tickets that represents approximately 190,000 tickets that we were not able to fulfill.”
And who are the fans filling the other 50,000 non-lottery seats at Notre Dame Stadium? Many of them are season ticket holders -- like one who has been sitting in the same seat for 53 years. He pays $1,434 each year to keep it. And despite Notre Dame's record this year, odds are he's not giving it up anytime soon.
“Demand has always exceeded supply,” Berlo said. “We've sold out 199 games as of the Duke game this fall. So I think we've got plenty of support out there.”