Three months before his audition for "Britain's Got Talent," 17-year-old Jonathan Antoine had a nervous breakdown after he was incessantly bullied about his 280-pound weight.
Today, the shy, A-level student from Ilford, Essex is the toast of the reality show world after he opened his mouth and left an entire audience cheering and wiping tears from their eyes on the March 24 edition of the show.
Dressed in baggy pants and a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, Antoine barely said a word before he and singing partner Charlotte Jaconelli belted out "The Prayer," a tune made famous in 1999 by a duet between Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
"Do you think you can win?" asked judge Simon Cowell.
Antoine shook his head, leaving Jaconelli to field Cowell's questions.
Antoine had said earlier in a taped segment that he had a confidence problem. He also credited his friend, Jaconelli, for helping him overcome his fears.
"I've always had a problem with my size," said Antoine.
"When people would say something to me it would take a little piece out of me," he said.
But it was Antoine's big pipes, not his size that mesmerized the crowd and judges when the duo began to sing.
In that instant, the room's awkward silence gave way to cheers.
A big, contented smile curled the corners of Cowell's lips.
"Wow, wow, wow," said Cowell, pounding the table before him, much as he had done in 2009 when the frumpy Scottish singer, Susan Boyle, appeared on the show and stunned the world with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Misérables."
"He's like a Pavarotti," Cowell told the other judges.
Cowell did not refrain from criticizing Jaconelli, whose voice seemed weak at times.
"I worry, Charlotte, whether you're going to hold him back," Cowell told Jaconelli.
Antoine replied: "We've come on here as a duo and we're going to stay here as a duo."
The gallant move earned Antoine even more cheers from the crowd, who clearly saw another Boyle in this unlikely star.
But in an interview with the U.K. publication "The Daily Mail," Antoine expressed his desire to distance himself from any comparisons.
"What I don't want is to be roped into a category with other people," Antoine told the publication on Sunday.
"If anything, I was hoping that because I don't look like a typical person who'd be in the limelight it would help. I'd like to show that a person is more than a body," he said.