Over seven weeks, the YouTube sensation was transformed into a genuine celebrity, and when Susan Boyle sang in the talent show final Saturday night, almost a third of Britain was watching on TV.
Nineteen million people tuned in to see the improbable star come right to the brink of finishing first - and come in second.
The winner: a high-energy dance group called Diversity. Boyle's only prize, was praise.
"You've had the guts to come back here tonight and face your critics, and you beat them," judge Simon Cowell told Boyle.
She may have beat the critics, with a smile and a shuffle. But within hours a candid photo showed a different face, and she was checked in - 'exhausted and emotionally drained,' her handlers said - to a private mental clinic.
Her voice coach said she was just a vulnerable woman: an innocent, caught up in the fame game.
He still carries a letter she wrote him.
"Dear Fred, You are the first person to tell me you liked me. I've been crying ever since. No one's ever told me that before," voice teacher Fred O'Neil read from the letter.
Friends and family say Boyle's resting now, but doing fine - finally back out of the spotlight.