Ryan Seacrest Shares the Emotional 'American Idol' Story Behind His Crying Meme

Kayla Keegan

From Woman's Day

If you've Googled Ryan Seacrest lately or follow him on any social media platform, you've likely seen a certain photo of the American Idol host in tears. Highlighting the snapshot, Ryan posted a series of memes his team had created using the picture.

"Remind me not to cry on TV. The team won’t stop with the memes," he jokingly wrote on the Instagram below on March 3.

But now that a month and a half has passed, the Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host is sharing the story behind the meme — and it's one that'll tug at your heartstrings, if you didn't catch it on Idol earlier this year.

During the audition process for season 3, Courtney Timmons accidentally missed the deadline for her chance to try out. Ryan happened to walk by and, not knowing her situation, saw Courtney looking sad and sitting outside the building. When she told him what had happened, Ryan did something he's never done before: He told the 22-year-old singer to come with him, took her up the elevator, and put her right in front of judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie.

"No one has heard her, we don't have any idea what she sounds like," Ryan told the judges. Much to everyone's surprise and delight though, Courtney owned her audition, singing a powerful rendition of Andra Day's "Rise Up." After Katy told Courtney she was going through to Hollywood, Ryan (and Katy!) began crying.

“Sorry, I’m like a parent, I’m crying," Ryan said while trying to hold back more tears.

Although Courtney was eliminated in the duet round of Hollywood Week, she ultimately got a shot at her dream thanks to Ryan. And now we know the truth behind the crying meme, which Ryan posted about again on Sunday night.

Once Ryan's fans saw his Instagram and discovered the whole story behind the photo, many were noticeably moved. "Love how you wear your heart on your sleeve ryan!" one fan wrote. "I love this. Your reaction - you’re correct. Just like a proud parent," another said. "Omg how could you not get emotional! Amazing! Ryan you da bomb. ♥️🙌🏼😍," a different fan wrote.

But perhaps the sweetest message of all was posted by Courtney herself. She wrote on Ryan's Instagram: "Thank you so much Ryan for what you did for me that day I will forever be grateful ❤️."

We're not crying, you are!

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