This 90 minute encounter was bizarre and wildly unpredictable, pitching two hugely unpopular candidates against each other in a fight to the finish.
The media centre, packed with hundreds of journalists, was completely silent as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton emerged onto the stage.
There were gasps when they didn't even shake hands, a lack of courtesy unheard of in Presidential debates.
But how did the night play out in key battleground states?
In Florida, on the outskirts of Miami, 200 Trump supporters had gathered to watch the debate in a restaurant.
They whooped with delight whenever Trump landed a blow and by the end of the night they were convinced their man had decisively won.
There were more women than men in the crowd - and not one of them was concerned about the recent "sex tape" leak.
"It's not a scandal," said one, "it just proves he's a real person, just like the rest of us."
In Ohio, Robin Gillette is another Trump supporter.
Over recent months I've been tracking her loyalty and wondering if she might jump off the Trump Train. Not a bit of it.
After last night's debate, she said this of the leaked tape: "No one died and national security wasn't compromised, and I'm not electing a pope."
So on one level the debate was a victory for Trump.He survived. He thrilled his loyalists with his brutal attacks on Hillary.
But it's also true that Democrats won last night.
Their biggest fear over the weekend was that Trump would be forced out or that he would step aside and be replaced by a less erratic candidate.
Mrs Clinton needs Trump to stay in the race.
She wants him wounded but intact. And by the end of the night, that was exactly where she had him.