Lopez Suffers American Idol Breakdown

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February 24, 2011 | 2:30pm EST

Jennifer Lopez broke down in tears during a recent taped episode of American Idol after she was forced to send home one contestant who had moved judges and viewers with his emotional story of heartache.
The Hollywood star, who serves on the reality competition’s new judging panel alongside Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson, was shown fighting back tears as she told singer Chris Medina he would not be progressing to the next round.

Medina had captured the hearts of American Idol fans with his back story in earlier episodes of the show, revealing he was supporting his wheelchair-bound fiancee, Juliana, after she was seriously injured in a car accident – and left brain damaged – months before the couple was due to wed. Lopez, Tyler and Jackson even met Juliana during the singer’s first audition.

But his efforts failed to land him a place in the talent show’s final 24, and it was left to Lopez to break the news to him, during an episode which aired on Wednesday night.

She told Medina, “It honestly breaks my heart to say this, but you’re not making it to the last 24.”

Lopez struggled to keep her emotions under control after he exited the room and was captured on camera crying as Tyler and Jackson tried to comfort her.

However, Medina’s appearance on American Idol was not completely in vein – generous viewers have donated a handicapped van to the couple, in addition to $29,000 in cash.

Lopez has since defended her teary TV breakdown, explaining it was “really hard” to send one of her favorite wannabes home.

Speaking on Idol host Ryan Seacrest’s Los Angeles radio show on Thursday morning, Lopez insisted it wasn’t like her to lose control of her emotions.

She explained, “It really hit me… I just couldn’t believe that I had to deliver this news to this person who I felt had been through a lot and was going through a lot. And I felt I didn’t do it well enough.

“He (Medina) handled it with so much dignity and class and that made it worse for me.

“I’m very in control of my emotions… I’ve had to be over the years. But that was a moment I didn’t expect to be on camera, in the show… It was really hard.”