Manti Te’o and his parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, speak out for the first time on TV about the online relationship scandal. The Notre Dame football star and Heisman Trophy runner-up has claimed he is the victim of a hoax after it was revealed that his girlfriend never existed and that her death was faked.
The story of college linebacker Manti Te’o and his fictitious girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, has become a national obsession and been called one of the strangest sports stories in history. It has all the makings of a page-turner or made for TV movie: football, fame, technology, deceit, and so many unanswered questions. Was Manti Te’o the victim of an elaborate hoax, or did he have any involvement in creating the scam? Manti Te’o answers the questions on everyone’s mind in an exclusive interview with Katie.
“I wasn’t as forthcoming as I should have been.” -Manti Te’o
— Marc Gentzler (@marclikesfun) January 24, 2013
Manti started communicating with the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua off-and-on during his freshman year after she reached out to him on Facebook. Initially, Manti wondered if she was real and even asked some his friends about her. What made him suspicious?
“I was just so caught up in the whole thing.” -Manti Te’o
— David (@dnp_david) January 24, 2013
Over the course of his relationship with Lennay Kekua, Manti Te’o tried several times to get together with her in-person. One time Manti tried to see her was when he was in San Diego on his way home to Hawaii. That was when he received news that she had been in a terrible car accident.
“It was very, very real.” -Manti Te’o
Calm & Cool @katiecouric interviewing Manti Te’o “Either you’re the most naïve person on the earth or this is the saddest story.”
— SANDRA K. SAMUEL (@sandraksamuel) January 24, 2013
Manti Te’o says he spent hours talking on the phone with Lennay, sometimes even falling asleep with her on the other end of the line. Katie reviewed Manti’s phone records and there were, in fact, dozens of calls, some hours long, to one phone number, the number Manti Te’o says belongs to Lennay Kekua. So who was the person on the other end of the phone? Manti provided voicemails he received from Lennay Kekua.
“I was just scared and I didn’t know what to do.” -Manti Te’o
— Kathleen Day (@kasday) January 24, 2013
To prove that Lennay was still alive, Manti asked her to send a photo with her initials and the date. Even Manti’s parents, Brian and Ottilia, believed that she was real.
“He’s not a liar. He’s a kid.” –Brian Te’o
— MReid-Brady (@CanyonEye) January 24, 2013
What should happen to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man allegedly behind the hoax? And what does Manti think will be the impact of the online relationship scandal on his career?
“As long as my family is ok, I can live with whatever happens.” -Manti Te’o
— Norma Zimmer (@survivor_lady) January 24, 2013