An election rife with fraud had ousted him from the race. Martelly's dreams of leading Haiti were all but dead. But four months of recounts, reviews and a runoff changed everything and the unexpected candidate is poised now to move into the presidential office.
Unexpected because Martelly has never been a politician. He's better known as "Sweet Mickey," a popular kompa singer who enthralled his fans with a bad-boy antics on stage. He cursed and swayed with a bottle of Barbancourt rum in his hands and on occasion, mooned his audience.
It's an image that Martelly said he cultivated for the stage. Still, it led many to question whether he was fit to run a nation as beleaguered as Haiti. Already the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, Haiti is reeling from devastation caused by last year's massive earthquake followed by a cholera epidemic later in the year.
A perceived lack of progress prompted Haitians to vote against the government-backed candidate. Martelly, they said, was a fresh face in politics, untainted by the corruption that has marred many a presidency in Haiti.
"To Haitians, particularly the legions of young and jobless, #Martelly is an outsider who can bring change to #Haiti," longtime Haiti observer Jocelyn McCalla said on Twitter.
Martelly's victory was a continuation of a signal the Haitian people have been sending for a while, said Gary Pierre-Pierre, editor and publisher of the New York-based newspaper The Haitian Times.
"They don't want the establishment. They don't want the status quo."
On the streets of Port-au-Prince, thousands turned out to chant one of his most popular nicknames: "Tet Kale," which means bald head in Creole. Haitians, especially the youth, were starving for a fresh face. And they got it Monday when the election council announced preliminary results.
Martelly won by a landslide with 67.6% of the vote, soundly defeating his challenger, former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who received 31.5%.
More here: Haiti's new president: Unexpected but understandable - CNN.com