MU student among few picked to attend Michael Jackson memorial

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Out of millions of fans hoping to get a glimpse at Michael Jackson's memorial, a senior from MU was one of the lucky few to witness it firsthand.

Zach Moss, a student and a local disc jockey who works under the moniker of DJ Z, won a ticket to the King of Pop's memorial event Tuesday in Los Angeles after participating in a worldwide lottery.

The lottery registration drew more than 1.6 million people, all hoping for one of the coveted tickets to the memorial. Only about 8,750 people won, and each person received two tickets, for a total of 17,500 tickets. Only 11,000 of those tickets were for seats inside the Staples Center, while the rest sat in the overflow section of the adjacent Nokia Theatre.

The registration period was limited; fans had to sign up between 10 a.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday. Moss, who registered on Friday afternoon, said he was sure he wouldn’t get a ticket.

“I was going to be in L.A. on Wednesday, so I thought, why not try,” Moss said. “But when they announced it was global, I thought, ‘Forget about it, I’m totally not going to win now.’”

After winning and deciding to take his agent to the memorial, Moss arrived at 3:30 a.m. to talk to reporters about his lottery experience. Afterward, he entered the Staples Center, where he said the atmosphere was somber and incredibly respectful.

“The mood was subdued, and there was no merchandise being sold, which I thought was nice,” Moss said. “It was eerie. Everybody was silent, like they were taking it all in. When the family entered, people clapped and shouted Michael’s name and then were silent again.”

Moss entered the Staples Center through the VIP entrance and sat in premium seats, which he said were awarded at random.

“I was just grateful to be there. I didn’t care where I sat,” Moss said.

Celebrities including Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah and Magic Johnson spoke about their experiences with Jackson. Moss said the Rev. Al Sharpton’s speech was the most engaging.

“It’s because of the way he commands a room,” Moss said. “He makes you see things in a completely new way.”

Legends such as Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie singing at the memorial. Moss said he was moved by Usher’s simple but deep performance.

“Usher was really cool when he went down to the casket to sing,” Moss said. “You could feel that it was really a performance for Michael.”

Moss said that for him, the most moving part of the memorial was not a particular performance or guest speaker, but something that required no words and, in his opinion, was very symbolic.

“At the end of it, after (Jackson's daughter) Paris spoke, they were playing a Michael Jackson song, and there was a single spotlight on the microphone as if someone was supposed to be there,” Moss said. “It was really deep and really emotional.”

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