Joe Biden was named the next president of the United States at 11.25 a.m. Saturday morning by television networks and the Associated Press - as Donald Trump played golf.
CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the AP and USA Today all made the call. Fox News did not immediately follow suit.
Votes in Philadelphia pushed his margin in must-win Pennsylvania over the edge. That took him to 273 electoral votes - putting the 77-year-old on a clear path to the White House.
Kamala Harris, his running mate becomes the first female vice president, and the first black and Asian-American vice president.
The call ended a rollercoaster which began on Tuesday when polls closed, and now turns the spotlight on Donald Trump and how he will react.
Biden should now be sworn in on January 20 as the 46th President of the United States - barring an extraordinary legal upset caused by one of the blizzard of lawsuits Trump has threatened, but which so far have failed to generate legal traction.
The apparent president-elect is now preparing to address the nation tonight but there was no obvious sign that Trump will offer a concession speech or public appearance of his own.
The former vice president sealed victory - after capitalizing on the coronavirus and stark disapproval of the president among women and minorities - with a result that was dramatically closer than many experts had predicted, denying him what he hoped would a total rejection of Trumpism.
But on Friday night he hailed rebuilding the 'blue wall,' winning thumping popular vote margins and said he was on his way to more than 300 Electoral College votes.
That added up to a 'mandate' he said, name-checking racial equality and climate change as where he will take action in a sign that the Democratic takeover of the White House will be unapologetic in pursuing the party's agenda.
He still faces an electoral battle, with two runoff races for both Georgia Senate seats on January 5 and the potential for Trump to cause chaos.
Trump, refusing to accept that the results so far have been legitimate, has vowed to contest them.
On Saturday morning he tweeted that his supporters have been banned from observing vote counting in some of the key swing states despite shouting 'stop the count!' and that officials had been 'covering windows' to block their views and forbidding them from overseeing the process.
He also promised a 'big' press conference in Philadelphia, where vote counting continues, where he said his lawyers would be present, then was seen leaving the White House in casual dress.
While in the car, he tweeted a link to a Breitbart story about a 'glitch' in vote counting software, then said: 'I WON THIS ELECTION BY A LOT!'. He was seen arriving at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, shortly afterwards.
Trump has not yet offered any proof of his claims. His campaign has vowed to file lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada to argue that the results cannot be trusted, and he is demanding a recount in Wisconsin.