Manti Te'o: 'I Wasn't Part of This'
Notre Dame star says he was a victim of girlfriend hoax
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2013 5:49 AM CST
In a photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview on Friday.   (AP Photo/ESPN Images, Ryan Jones)

(Newser) – Manti Te'o has broken his silence over the dead girlfriend hoax, and he insists to ESPN that he was a victim the whole time: "I wasn't faking," he says. "I wasn't part of this." The Notre Dame star says he didn't know for sure until this week that "Lennay Kekua" never existed, when hoaxster Ronaiah Tuiasosopo fessed up via a direct message on Twitter. (The scoop from Deadspin came out a few hours later.) Te'o says Tuiasosopo had a male and female accomplice, still unidentified.

Te'o says he never met "Lennay" in person, but he lied to his father about doing so and misled reporters when talking about the relationship. Instead, he says he regularly spoke to someone he thought was Lennay by phone, and their ties deepened when he helped her (or so he thought) recuperate from a car accident and then battle leukemia.

  • "I knew that—I even knew, that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone—people find out that this girl who died, I was so invested in, I didn't meet her, as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away, so that people wouldn't think that I was some crazy dude."
Te'o says he was told Lennay died in September, but then he got a call from her on Dec. 6 in which she says she had been hiding from "drug people." A few weeks later, over Christmas, he says he informed his parents and Notre Dame that Lennay might be alive after all, and the school started its own investigation. Some of the particulars of his account seem to contradict what Notre Dame has said, according to Deadspin.

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Jan 20, 2013 10:32 AM CST
He did all of this to get the emotional vote for the Heissman trophy. It failed. Now it's doubtful anyone will draft him for the pro's. The best he can now hope for is a walk-on role. The ploy really backfired on him.
Jan 19, 2013 10:25 AM CST
TE'O TAYYYYYYO website down and me fake girl go.
Jan 19, 2013 10:08 AM CST
How can you claim that a person you never met is your girl friend ? Maybe a pen pal, but not your girlfriend. Kissing and hugging warrent calling a girl your girl friend. How do you know this person is real ? Is this bone head really so dumb ? It could be a guy or an 80 year old grandma. I mean what's worse. Being thought of as the dumbest guy on the planet or admitting it was a hoax. Why are we even considering his side of the story believable. And why is he content with being thought of as an idiot.