Officials at the University of Mississippi say excitement has been building for months for Friday's presidential debate in Oxford.
More than 300 people gathered at the Lyceum Sunday night for the kickoff.
Most of the students were there to discover if they'd won a chance to attend the event, set for 8 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
More than 7,500 Passport to the Debate lottery entries were submitted, plus 150 leadership applications. From those, 300 were chosen. Having their names drawn does not guarantee that students will receive debate tickets, but the chances are very good for the first several dozen drawn.
The university will not learn what its ticket allotment is until workers finish configuring the Ford Center's main hall for the event. Tickets will be awarded in the order of the lottery drawing until all have been handed out.
While some students have won debate tickets outright in several campus competitions, others were offered two lottery options: to participate in the Passport to the Debate, which required attending several designated debate-related events and receiving a lottery ticket for each attendance; and to submit a leadership application to be considered in a competitive process.