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Obama inauguration tickets put on sale early by mistake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two of the hottest tickets to President Barack Obama's second inauguration became even more difficult to acquire after the company responsible for selling seats to the official parade and ball on Sunday put the tickets on sale prematurely.

Public tickets for the official inaugural parade and ball were sold earlier than advertised by Ticketmaster, which first alerted buyers that the tickets would be sold Monday but then sent out a second message opening up sales Sunday.

The glitch caused the ticket broker's site to crash.

"All public tickets are first-come, first-served, including those sold tonight," the ticket giant said in an email sent to potential buyers Sunday evening. "There is no guarantee that you will be able to purchase a ticket at any time."

"Ticketmaster admitted that they made a mistake but we still have to honor the tickets that were sold," said Cameron French, a spokesman for the presidential inaugural committee.

A limited number of tickets had been made available for the official ball, sold for $60, and the parade, offered at $25.

The snafu comes two weeks before the January 21 ceremony that will formally mark the beginning of Obama's second term.

Officials are expecting up to 800,000 people, less than half of the estimated 1.8 million who came to cheer at Obama's first inauguration in January 2009, when he became the nation's first black president.

(Editing by David Lindsey and Eric Walsh)

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