Tour de France champion Wiggins, 32, beat 11 other contenders to the prestigious title.
He became the first Briton to win the Tour and followed that famous triumph with gold in the men's time trial at London 2012, his fourth Olympic title - and record-equalling seventh Olympic medal - during a memorable summer.
The runners-up award went to Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis while US Open tennis champion and Olympic men's singles gold medallist Andy Murray was third.
"I will say thank you to everyone who voted," Wiggins said after the receiving the trophy from the Duchess of Cambridge at a glittering televised ceremony in London.
"We have had all that jungle stuff and X-Factor the last few weeks, so for people to pick up the phone and vote in half an hour, thank you very much.
"What a year. To stand on this stage with the people next to me is incredible. I'd like to thank my team-mates. I wouldn't be on this stage without them.
“I'd like to thank Dave Brailsford, the coaches, British Cycling, Team Sky and all the Olympians."
The BBC said more than 1.6m phone votes were recorded, with Wiggins taking 30.25% of the vote.
He was formerly an accomplished track cyclist, winning individual pursuit gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, a title he retained in 2008 while also helping Britain to win the team pursuit in Beijing. He was part of the teams that won team pursuit silver in Greece and bronze in Sydney in 2000, while he also won Madison bronze in Athens.
Only fellow cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has won as many Olympic medals.
The victory of Wiggins - who finished fourth in the 2009 Tour, a position later revised to third following the Lance Armstrong doping affair - marks the second successive year the trophy has been awarded to a cyclist after Mark Cavendish scooped 2011’s prize.
British cycling chief Dave Brailsford took the Coach of the Year trophy, showing the sport’s increasing appeal in Britain.
Lord Sebastian Coe won a lifetime achievement award that recognised his role in bringing the Games to London, being the driving force in its success and for the twice Olympic 1,500m champion’s career as a middle-distance runner.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was named Overseas Sports Personality after an extraordinary year in which he clinched triple Olympic gold and also defended his Beijing 100 and 200 metres titles at London 2012.
1. Bradley Wiggins 492,064 (30.25%)
2. Jessica Ennis 372,765 (22.92%)
3. Andy Murray 230,444 (14.17%)
4. Mo Farah 131,327 (8.07%)
5. David Weir 114,633 (7.05%)
6. Ellie Simmonds 102,894 (6.33%)
7. Sir Chris Hoy 42,961 (2.64%)
8. Nicola Adams 35,560 (2.19%)
9. Ben Ainslie 35,373 (2.17%)
10. Rory McIlroy 29,729 (1.83%)
11. Katherine Grainger 28,626 (1.76%)
12. Sarah Storey 10,342 (0.64%)