The next day, they woke up in humble homes to the reality of family strife and possible unemployment.
Most of the miners headed home over the weekend from the hospital where they were taken after being pulled through a narrow, 2,040-foot-deep shaft to the surface Wednesday in a stunning rescue broadcast live around the world.
They are getting substantial offers of money for their story, but made a pact to say little about their 69-day ordeal while negotiating movie and book rights. They even hired an accountant while underground to track and share the proceeds, their friend, shift foreman Pablo Ramirez, told The Associated Press.
"All that will come out later. As a group, we're thinking about putting out a book, and that will tell everything," said Ariel Ticona, whose baby Esperanza - Spanish for hope - was born during his entrapment, when asked by the AP for details of his survival.
Riches may come, but for now, many face an uncomfortable present: Most live in improvised homes in marginal neighborhoods. Some have strained relationships with the families who held vigil, praying for their survival. All face a search for work since the mine that employed them has filed for bankruptcy.
Seven of the miners held a news conference to plead for job training and government benefits. They also pleaded for privacy, citing the media's treatment of fellow miners Johnny Barrios and Claudio Yanez.
Barrios' wife and lover, who live a block away from one another, both arrived at the mine following the Aug. 5 collapsed that trapped them, launching a high-profile soap opera.
Yanez's strained relationships also were on display when the media waited outside his mother's house, where his family had prepared a welcome-home party, and he didn't show up. He went instead to the home of the mother of his two children, a woman he proposed marriage to while underground. Yanez's sister, cameras in tow, later threw a rock at the woman's house, and yelled that he can forget having his family to support him.
Other miners returned to lives of poverty in the hardscrabble neighborhoods that climb the hills around Copiapo, the gritty capital of Chile's northern Atacama region.
Carlos Mamani, the only Bolivian in the group, lives in a small green wooden house on an unpaved road in Padre Negro.
On a clear night, the glittering street lights of Copiapo stretch out like a beautiful carpet below mountains that hold the promise of copper and gold.
But Padre Negro's 38 houses lack access to sewers and running water. Mamani and his neighbors - mainly Bolivians and Peruvians - must walk for blocks to two public taps to get water and then carry it back up the hill.
"This area is dangerous at night. Drugs are sold here and there is theft. I've lived here for a while and I still have to be careful to avoid problems," said one of Mamani's neighbors, Jose Vadillo, a 15-year-old Bolivian, to The Associated Press.
Barrios and Yanez live near Mamani, but closer to central Copiapo in a neighborhood where gangs mark their territory with old sneakers hanging from electricity poles.
Other miners live in Tiltil Bajo, a neighborhood of wood and tin houses that lack sewage connections. There, relatives of Pedro Cortez and Carlos Bugueno had no money to buy balloons, so they blew air into white plastic bags and hung them along Corona del Inca street to welcome them home. They had a huge party anyway - Bugueno's small house is shared by 17 people, including his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.
Chile's government has promised to look out for the rescued miners, and each has received about $12,000 in donations, but their futures remains uncertain.
"Three months from now, what will I be doing? Selling candy on the beach? Wondering what the government has done for us? Nothing," said Edison Pena. "I'm very afraid and I would like for things to change."
The San Jose mine where the men worked is inoperable following the cave-in. At month's end, a judicial arbiter will decide on its bankruptcy. Pinera and his appointees have already said it must remain closed as a safety hazard, with 700,000 tons of fallen rock in danger of collapsing still further into the bottom of the mine.
Some of the men have new opportunities outside mining.
Franklin Lobos, a former professional soccer player who drove trucks at the San Jose mine, is wanted by the world soccer body FIFA to give motivational talks, Chilean soccer director Harold Mayne-Nicholls said.
And Bolivian President Evo Morales has offered Mamani a job in his government.
Others feel their future remains underground.
Copiapo's residents mainly work in mines or vineyards. But locals say the vineyards demand special training the miners don't have.
Omar Reygadas said he will keep on working in mines.
"It is my work. It is my way of earning pesos," he said. "I am a mole, and I'm happy when I am underground."
By Associated Press Writers Franklin Briceno and Eva Vergara. Michael Warren and Mauricio Cuevas contributed to this story