The 34-year-old long distance runner appeared genuinely stunned at winning the prestigious award at the end of last night’s count after being previously overlooked in Olympic years where he twice won two gold medals.
But before Farah had a chance to speak from London about his drought-breaking triumph, the video link dropped out just second after he was presented with the award by daughter Rhianna.
Farah won the title ahead of runner-up Jonathan Rea, with the Northern Irishman having won an historic third successive World Superbike championship earlier this year.
Two-time Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock finished third.
Farah achieved the gong on the back of winning his third successive world 10,000m gold medal in London in August, despite almost falling twice late in the race.
He becomes the first long-distance runner to win the Sports Personality award since Paula Radcliffe in 2002.
Known for his distinctive ‘Mobot’ winner’s celebration, Farah last year became only the second man in history to retain the 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic titles.
The technical glitch during last night’s ceremony left fellow British track star Michael Johnson to sing Farah’s praises.
“It’s well deserved,” Johnson said. “This year he came into his home championships, his last race on the track, and still delivered. Over the years he’s dominated. He’s out there by himself and always got the tactics right.”
Retired Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill received the Lifetime Achievement award, while the England women’s cricket side was named Team of the Year.
The Helen Rollason award for “outstanding achievement in the face of adversity” was posthumously awarded to six-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery, who died of cancer in July.