USMagazine, Friday, September 28, 2012, 7:00am (PDT)
Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid have seen their fair share of lackluster auditions on FOX's X Factor, but Thursday's episode proved otherwise once Freddie Combs took to the stage.
The 540-pound, wheelchair-bound minister from Greenville, Tenn., was wheeled onstage by his wife of 16 years and launched into an emotional performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings."
"When you almost die, your life changes and you look at living in a whole different manner," the optimistic singer -- who once tipped the scales at 920 lbs. and lost nearly 400 through diet and exercise -- said before his routine. "I'm going to do my best and if my best don't get it done, I'm going to move on."
Stunned by his vocals, all four X Factor judges voted Combs, 40, through to the next round, but not before Cowell made a deal with the singer to become healthier as he progresses through the competition.
"When I heard you sing, I had a vision in my mind of you standing, singing that song, healthy, happy, and maybe you need some inspiration to help you to the next stage," Cowell told Combs. "It's within you to sort this out and I don't think you deserve to be stuck in this chair. I'll back you if you back yourself."