The court room drama included victims detailing how Madoff's fraud took their life savings and turned their hopes for the future into ruins. Eleven victims spoke.
"He should spend his whole life in jail. He's ruined so many people's lives. He killed my spirit and shattered my dreams," victim Sharon Lissauer told the judge.
Madoff's fraud totaled an estimated $65 billion. His lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, had requested a 12-year sentence, which would have freed Madoff from prison at age 83, The New York Times reported.
Before the sentence was announced, Madoff faced victims in the back of the room.
"I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain, I understand that," he said.
"I live in a tormented state now ... I've left a legacy of shame ... to my family and my grandchildren."
Prosecutors requested the maximum sentence based on the number victims, the amount of money stolen and the extent of the fallout from his scheme.
Madoff pleaded guilty March 12 to running a scheme that including fraud, money laundering, perjury and false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.