It wasn't immediately clear where Rod Blagojevich's car was headed when it passed up the entrance more than once to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Englewood.
Blagojevich had gotten off a plane to Denver from Chicago, swarmed by more reporters, on his way to begin serving his 14-year sentence. He got into a black SUV outside the airport and traveled toward the prison.
Attorney Aaron Goldstein later confirmed they initially got lost on the way to the facility and then decided to get lunch.
After some searching they ended up at Freddy's steak burgers, a fast-food joint where Blagojevich would have his final meal as a free man. He posed for a few photos at the restaurant, and one woman said, "You're the guy from 'The Apprentice.'"
Just after 6 a.m., Blagojevich left his Ravenswood Manor home and his family. "Saying goodbye is the hardest thing I have ever had to do," he told reporters as he got into a car leaving for O'Hare.
"I'm leaving with a heavy heart, a clear conscience," he said. "I have high, high hopes for the future. Among the hopes is now you guys can go home and our neighbors can get their neighborhood back. I'll see you guys when I see ya."
Before he boarded an American Airlines flight, he continued to shake hands and sign autographs.
As he exited the plane in Denver, he told NBCChicago's Phil Rogers it breaks his heart to think he left down the state of Illinois.
"I'm grateful beyond words for the support and giving me the chance to serve," he said.
Blagojevich entered the federal prison just before 1 p.m. Chicago time with his attorneys. Carrying a backpack, which he'll have to relinquish upon entering the prison, he gave a wave outside the car and walked slowly and relaxed into the building.