For more than two decades, Simon Cowell’s commentary and entertainment expertise have helped TV shows and contestants thrive. But lately, the America’s Got Talent judge has been forced to take a back seat after losing his voice. Scroll below to find out what really happened to the business mogul and how he sustained a vocal cord injury.

What Happened to Simon Cowell?

Season 18 of America’s Got Talent kicked off with an exciting premiere on May 30. In the weeks that followed, fans noticed Simon’s voice getting strained and hoarse. Left unable to speak at the halfway point of auditions, host Terry Crews came up with a solution to help Simon communicate. 

“Being the great person that I am, I got a gift for him,” the White Chicks actor told the audience during a June 27 episode. “I have a special soundboard that has been loaded up with thousands of comments — a lot of things he’s said over the years — so we’ll be able to hear Simon Cowell.”

Simon Cowell Voice: Vocal Cord Injury Amid 'AGT' Filming
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The former X Factor judge used the soundboard to communicate with contestants, which brought so many laughs to the audience and his fellow judges, Howie Mandel, Sofía Vergara and Heidi Klum.

“There are no words to describe the excitement level of season 18, that’s why it’s serendipitous that this is the season that Simon lost his voice finally,” Howie joked to People in March while filming auditions. 

How Did He Lose His Voice? 

After many fans and viewers expressed their concerns for Simon after the show’s premiere, he revealed the real reason behind losing his voice. The record executive, who shares son Eric with fiancée Lauren Silverman, began experiencing vocal issues after something got stuck in his throat. 

“I think what happened was the acid from my stomach literally burned my vocal cords,” he told USA Today in late May. “So, this doctor came over and put a camera up my nose, down my throat and I could actually see how badly burnt they were.”

Simon was put on vocal rest following his visit with the doctor. 

“It was torture. There was so much I wanted to say, and I literally could not talk,” he continued. “We tried writing things. At one point, I used this kind of iPad device where I had things I’d said before. I tried to use Sofía to translate for me, and she deliberately said the wrong things, so it was just chaos.”

Luckily, the TV personality regained his voice toward the end of filming auditions. He will be good to go when it comes time to say his signature phrases during the America’s Got Talent live shows later this summer.