Trouble pop princess Britney Spears got a bit emotional when she recognized one of the male contestants as someone she had worked with over a decade ago during The X Factor auditions at the Oracle Arena in San Francisco, California on Sunday (June 17)- watch video below.
“You could see that Britney recognized him straight away,” a source tells PEOPLE. “She got this huge smile on her face and her eyes lit up. It was so sweet.”
“I know him,” said Britney. “We did a duet together 10 years ago.”
The contestant, Don Phillip, who collaborated on “I Will Still Love You” for Brit’s “Baby One More Time” album, confessed that he is gay and has been struggling for these past years. Britney was nothing but supportive. Despite being shaken by his confession, Brit managed to remain calm and professional.
“At the time I didn’t think I was worthy,” Don told Britney. “I didn’t think you thought it was okay that I am gay.”
“I think it is fine you are gay,” she said.
“When he started crying and saying he thought he’d never see her again and that he’d had a lot to deal with, Britney was comforting him to calm him,” the source says.
“She’s been through a lot in those 10 years, too, so it must have been a shock for her to see him,” the source says. “You could tell she was emotional and she really felt for him especially when he was crying, but she also stayed calm.”
When presented with a challenge, Britney apparently handled it like a pro, delivering a straightforward critique of the contestant’s performance (video at 1:35 mark). Who knew Brit could actually handle a situation like this without breaking down in front of the live audience?
Britney told Don, “Through the years, maybe you’ve gone through a lot of hardships and battles, and I think you’ve gone through that more than training on your voice, because your voice really isn’t up to the bar of the standards of ‘The X Factor’ and what we want.”
At the end of the day, Don was sent home, but he took Brit’s comments well, even proclaiming his love to the “Oops! I Did It Again” singer. It was a sweet moment. There’s no doubt we can expect to see that in the second season of FOX’s talent show this fall.
Britney Spears Emotional Don Phillip’s X Factor Audition Video