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Austin Mahone: 5 Things You Don’t Know About the VMA Nominee

Austin Mahone at the Young Hollywood Awards on August 1, 2013

Austin Mahone is ready for the MTV Video Music Awards! At just 17, the You Tube viral video sensation turned pop star is nominated for his first award ever — and it's a big one. On Sunday, Aug. 25, the Texas native will vie for the coveted Artist to Watch trophy, presented by Taco Bell. Mahone joins newcomers Twenty One Pilots, Zedd, The Weeknd and Iggy Azalea in the category, which was formerly known as the Best New Artist category.

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Releasing the single "11:11" in 2012, Mahone — who calls his legion of fans "Mahomies" — is currently enjoying the radio and music video success of "What About Love." His Universal Republic album, Junior Year, is scheduled to hit stores in October.

Ahead of Sunday's VMAs, Us Weekly rounded up five fun and somewhat surprising facts about the teen pop star on the rise.

1. He has Jesse McCartney to thank for his initial viral video success. "My first cover was 'Beautiful Soul' by Jesse McCartney," Mahone — who began recording goofy video clips and covers on YouTube when he was 15 with his pal Alex Constancio — tells Billboard. Mahone has also covered tracks by Rascal Flatts, Drake, Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz.

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2. Sure, he's got the shaggy 'do and syrupy sweet vocals, but don't call Mahone the next Justin Bieber. "I want people to give me a chance to show that I'm different. I'm not trying to copy him or take anything from him. I'm a person," the teen tells The Huffington Post. "My music is different and I'm just trying to do my own thing."

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3. He's Just Like Us! Like any normal teenage boy, Mahone loves to kill time at the arcade. "Sometimes I like to go to Dave & Busters with my fans," he tells Billboard, referring to the restaurant and arcade chain. "It's a fun thing for us to do together and it's important for me to update them on everything I do and hang out with them, having pizza parties or whatever."

4. He's in tight with Taylor Swift. "She's so nice," Mahone says of his "Red" concert tour mate. "People probably don't know how real and extremely down to earth she is. She's one of the sweetest girls I've ever met." One of Mahone's other celeb pals? Selena Gomez, with whom the teen recently visited Disneyland for a day of fun.

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5. Said to be attracted to girls who can tell a good knock-knock joke, it's clear the singer appreciates a good laugh. After all, he was on America's Funniest Home Videos as a toddler. In the AFV clip, a 3-year-old Mahone, dressed in a camouflage tee and cowboy hat, will only sing when given a microphone. His song of choice? "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," performed complete with a tip of his hat at the end!

See if newcomer Mahone takes home a Moonman trophy when the MTV Video Music Awards air Sunday at 9 p.m. (EST).

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