Matt Zavoral popped out behind the black curtains on the “American Idol” stage on Monday’s show to surprise his girlfriend.
He also surprised Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.
Zavoral, born and raised in Sacramento, proposed to Johanna Jones during a taping of her final Hollywood Week auditions for the 17th season of “American Idol.”
Jones said yes. The two will tie the knot this June after being together for a year, Zavoral said.
The couple has known each other “for a long time,” and Zavoral said he couldn’t wait to ask for Jones’ hand in marriage. Jones knew Zavoral had purchased her an engagement ring, he said, and was waiting for him to propose.
Though he had an elaborate plan to propose in San Francisco, Zavoral said he decided to pop the question in Hollywood when he realized how important the audition was to Jones.
It was finals week at BYU, where Zavoral studied, but after a few emails to “American Idol” press employees, he had a new plan.
“It was 2 a.m. and I thought, ‘If I take five finals tomorrow, I could actually go down to Hollywood to propose,’” Zavoral said. “Johanna always wanted to be surprised.”
“My hair was in the way so I couldn’t see him come on stage, and when I turned around I was scared because I wasn’t expecting a person right there,” Jones said of the surprise. “It took me a couple seconds to recognize who he was, and then it took me another couple of seconds to realize the reason he was there.”
When she finally realized that Zavoral was there to propose, Jones said she was shocked and happy.
“I just remember being so blown away when he showed up, and of course I knew there would be no other reason for him to be there,” she said.
Jones wasn’t the only member of the audience who was shocked, though. In a video promoting the episode, Katy Perry’s cries can be heard as soon as Zavoral pops out from behind a black curtain.
No one in the audience or on the show’s staff knew of Zavoral’s plans, save a few of the show’s producers.
“I had no idea Katy Perry would burst into tears like that, and Johanna’s mom was screaming from the audience,” Zavoral said.
Zavoral said the experience was memorable not only because Jones said yes, but also because of the star-studded audience in the presence of the duo’s engagement.
“Lionel Richie hugged me, Luke Bryan fist bumped me and Katy Perry got tears on my sweater,” Zavoral said. “I don’t know how many actors and actresses that can produce that many tears on demand, she was sobbing.”
Jones and Zavoral have not seen the full video of the engagement, Jones said, but the two were looking forward to watching the episode Monday.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction of our family and the judges,” Jones said. “Of course we were there but I was so focused on what was happening, so I’m excited to see their response.”
As for her stint on “American Idol,” Jones said, “I won’t give anything away but it’s going really well.”