Making his triumphant return to the show that made him famous, rising country star Scotty McCreery was on hand on Wednesday night (Jan. 23) to help 'American Idol' kick off its twelfth season audition rounds in Charlotte, NC.

McCreery came out to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where 'Idol' was holding its huge open cattle call auditions. He addressed the throng of hopefuls with an endearingly self-deprecating joke. "Two years ago this year I was sitting in the stands like y'all, and Ryan Seacrest came out and said, 'The next American Idol could be in this room,'" he recalled. "And I said, 'Yeah -- yeah, right."

Of course, the next American Idol was sitting in that room -- McCreery went on to win the entire thing, and has since launched a hugely successful country music career. His debut album 'Clear as Day'  has sold more than a million copies on the strength of singles like 'The Trouble With Girls,' 'I Love You This Big' and 'Water Tower Town.' He recently released a Christmas album that's also been certified gold.