Golfer Rory McIlroy is well used to entering the Sunday of a big event as an odds-on favourite. The difference this time was that he didn't win.
With two majors and a Ryder Cup in the bag, he was considered a near-certainty by some to collect the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
But Lewis Hamilton, as he did on the way to his second Formula One title, overtook the long-time front runner and won the prize.
McIlroy, 25, may not be used to coming second, but he was sporting in defeat, exchanging good wishes with the F1 driver and hinting he would attend a grand prix to see him early next year.
"Well done," said the Northern Irishman with a thumbs up as two famous sportsmen exchanged pleasantries in the corner of the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow on Sunday.
"It's been a great night and to be considered for the award is an honour. Lewis had a great year, a second world championship, some big battles with Nico Rosberg and dominated the Formula One scene. It's something I followed closely," he said.
"I still got a lot of support out there and to finish second was a great achievement. Hopefully if I can achieve just as much next year, it might just inspire me to go one better."
|Lewis Hamilton - F1 - 209,920||Lizzy Yarnold - skeleton - 23,188|
|Rory McIlroy - golf - 123,745||Max Whitlock - gymnastics - 17,219|
|Jo Pavey - athletics - 99,913||Gareth Bale - football - 13,747|
|Charlotte Dujardin - dressage - 75,814||Carl Froch - boxing - 11,616|
|Kelly Gallagher & Charlotte Evans - skiing - 35,871||Adam Peaty - swimming - 9,899|
|Total votes cast - 620,932|
Hamilton, one of 10 shortlisted contenders, earned 34% of the public vote, polling 209,920 of the 620,932 votes cast, with McIlroy getting 123,745 (20%) and athlete Jo Pavey 99,913 (16%) in third.
There was no doubting it was a surprise result, with Hamilton's success in recent memory, and the significant F1 following of the so-called "petrolheads", perhaps making a difference.
Hamilton, second in 2007 and the following year when he won his first F1 title, seemed genuinely choked.
Teary-eyed, he looked down at the famous names on the trophy. Names he knew well from his own sport like Damon Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart.
"I think what makes it more surprising, is watching all those great sportsmen and women on the screen and realising that I might be among some of the greatest sporting heroes of my time," he said.
His brother Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy, was beside him during the show.
"I was here in 2007 and 2008 when Lewis didn't win it. Today I felt really proud," he said.
"He was shocked. I wasn't so shocked, I felt he deserved it. "
Lewis recognised he was not everyone's number one choice for the award.
"I would have voted for Rory, but if you're watching, it can be difficult to choose at home, because everyone in their own right has achieved so much," he said.
"Growing up, I always said never give up. I've come second twice, and just being there was a humbling experience. Back then, I was much younger, so perhaps I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now."
Hamilton had earlier caused a stir on the red carpet by bringing along his pet bulldog Roscoe.
"Roscoe is very curious, he seems to be loving it. It's great to see him. I picked him up today and I'm going to reunite him with Coco [his other pet dog] tomorrow. She's had an operation, so I'm excited to see her," he said.
|Past 10 winners|
|2013: Andy Murray (tennis)||2012: Sir Bradley Wiggins (cycling)|
|2011: Mark Cavendish (cycling)||2010: AP McCoy (horse racing)|
|2009: Ryan Giggs (football)||2008: Sir Chris Hoy (cycling)|
|2007: Joe Calzaghe (boxing)||2006: Zara Phillips (equestrian)|
|2005: Andrew Flintoff (cricket)||2004: Dame Kelly Holmes (athletics)|
|All the award winners|
Another of the 10 nominees - dressage's Charlotte Dujardin - had left her horse, Valegro, back at Olympia ahead of this week's London International Horse Show.
Her fourth place was credit to being world, Olympic and European champion, with significant support from the equestrian community.
Golf does not galvanise itself quite so well and Europe's victorious Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, named coach of the year, was disappointed McIlroy did not win.
"What more could he have done? It's arguably the best performance any European golfer has had over a 12-month period," said McGinley.
"We are very lucky in golf that we have a guy like him. I'm obviously biased towards Rory and being in the golf business, but maybe people felt Lewis had a better year."
McIlroy has the Masters on his mind for 2015: "The Green Jacket would complete the career grand slam. It would be a huge thing to go for at 25 years of age."
As is the way with this show, there was light and shade.
Prince Harry presented the Helen Rollason Award, in memory of the BBC presenter who died aged 43 in 1999, to wounded servicemen and women who competed at the Invictus Games in London.
Gymnast Claudia Fragapane, was named the Young Personality; England's Women's Rugby World Cup winners took the team award, while Portugal and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the overseas honour.
Scotland's record-breaking cyclist Sir Chris Hoy accepted the lifetime achievement award, while the Get Inspired Unsung Hero prize was won by Leicestershire swimming coach Jill Stidever, 77.
McIlroy, and the other nominees, took time out before the event to call a sporting volunteer who had been nominated for recognition.
It was a little example of how the well-paid stars sometimes give a little back. Sports Personality can divide opinion but it attempts to showcase the positives.
And the endorsement from the public registers with the winners. Hamilton said he has left all of his other career trophies with his father. This one he took home.