As Americans were streaming into polling stations all over the country on Tuesday, Mr Donald Trump was being interviewed on Fox News and asked about his thoughts on polls showing his rival Hillary Clinton leading in the race.
"Who knows what happens ultimately?" said the business mogul and reality TV star in a rare show of non-bravado. "If I don't win, I will consider it a tremendous waste of time, energy and money."
As he walked into a public school later on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife Melania to cast his vote, he smiled and waved, shutting his ears to a booing crowd.
Not far away, protesters bearing placards reading "Dump the Trump" had camped outside his Trump Tower.
Yet, amid such blatant displays of disapproval for the Republican Party's candidate, half a dozen construction workers working outside the polling station, with their hard hats bearing "Trump Pence" stickers, cheered the billionaire on.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average index ended up 0.4 per cent as investors put their faith in Mrs Clinton winning, while Mexico's peso hit a two-month high expecting Mr Trump to lose.
As polls started to close, an encouraging message came from President Barack Obama as he prepared the country for a sleepless night of nerves and a future president that not everyone would like.
"While progress isn't guaranteed, each of us has the power to choose our path. Not just on nights like these, but every day in between," he said. "No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on earth."
Mrs Clinton followed suit with a tweet about an hour later: "This team has so much to be proud of. Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything."
Nothing was heard from her after that, as she holed up in a hotel suite with her family going through both her victory and concession speeches, while Mr Trump surrounded himself with his family and aides in the "war room" of his campaign headquarters.
As counting got under way, few surprises were in store. Mrs Clinton took Vermont, as expected of the Democratic stronghold, while Mr Trump took Kentucky.
West Virginia, a beleaguered coal-mining state, voted for Mr Trump who had promised to bring jobs back to the miners. Liberal states in the east such as Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island all went to Mrs Clinton without any surprise. Mr Trump sealed Republican southern and midwestern states such as Texas and North Dakota.
The nail-biting began as voting began in the swing states, especially the big battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Then, the battering began.
At around 10.30pm (in New York), about three hours after the first results came in, Ohio went Mr Trump's way. No Republican candidate has won the White House without Ohio, hence the phrase: "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation."
Shortly after that, Associated Press called Florida for him as well.
The New York Times, which had before the polls projected that Mrs Clinton had an 86 per cent chance of going to the White House, quickly redid its numbers and gave Mr Trump a 55 per cent chance instead.
Pundits and supporters reacted with disbelief at Mr Trump's "good night" as he surged ahead in the electoral votes, taking him closer to the 270 needed to win the race.
The Democrats continued to take a pummelling as news came of the Republicans' resounding win in the Senate and House of Representatives, and North Carolina going to Mr Trump as well.
As Michigan and Pennsylvania battled on fiercely, markets turned, with the Dow Jones futures market, Mexican peso and Japanese yen all tumbling.
Four states were left by midnight that could lift Mrs Clinton's hopes - Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada. She managed to clinch the swing state of Nevada, but in the end, it was not enough.
By then, tears were in free flow at the Democratic election night party venue at Javits Centre in New York City.
The atmosphere at the Trump party was expectedly jubilant, with supporters chanting "call it, call it".
As the reality that he could very well be America's 45th president sank in, Mr Trump left his war room, returning to his apartment with Melania.
"He needed a moment, he is taking this in," sources reportedly said.
More disappointment was in store for Mrs Clinton's supporters who had gathered at the Javits Centre expecting a celebratory party. Her campaign chief John Podesta appeared after 2am and broke the news to them that she would not be making an appearance.
"We are so proud of you, and we are so proud of her. She has done an amazing job, and she is not done yet," he said.
As shell-shocked supporters left the venue to go home, Mrs Clinton called Mr Trump to concede defeat.
At 2.40am, various media outlets called the election for Mr Trump and all was over.