Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend was a hoax: was he in on it?


Whenever we have a sports crossover story, I call my dad to get his take. My dad watches ESPN like I watch E!, and my main question is always “did you know who this guy was before this scandal?” In the case of Notre Dame defensive linebacker Manti Te’o, my dad said that he’d definitely heard about him before this latest news and that Te’o was a big name in college football. Te’o is a great linebacker, in fact he’s the “most decorated collegiate football player of all time.” Part of Te’o's lore was a story he told the press about how his girlfriend died of leukemia in September of last year, on the same day he lost his grandmother. Te’o's sad personal history helped bolster his image, and he finished second in votes for the prestigious Heisman trophy last year, the highest award in college football. (Incidentally it’s rare for a defensive player to earn a Heisman, and Te’o earned more Heisman votes than any defensive player to date.)

Deadspin ran an extensive investigative piece yesterday exposing the fact that Manti T’eo’s girlfriend was a hoax. The woman he claimed had died had never existed, and her photos were those of another woman, which were lifted from Facebook without her consent. It was all the work of a guy named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who was a buddy of T’eo’s according to people who knew him. In response to this scandal, Te’o claimed that he was the victim of an elaborate Internet hoax, which didn’t jibe with his claims that he had sent flowers to his late girlfriend’s funeral, and that he hoped to see her family “again” after a recent game victory. Many people, including my dad, believe that Te’o was in on the whole thing.

I’m going to quote the NY Daily News here because they do a good job of really summing up this story and the major points. (You can read the story on Deadspin too.) It’s complicated, and the jist is that either Manti Te’o is a naive victim and fell in love with a woman without ever meeting her, or he orchestrated a con in order to seem more sympathetic in the eyes of the press. For their part, Notre Dame did an investigation and claims they buy his story. They’re backing him. Also, if you’d like a breakdown of the major points in this case, USA Today has a brief article that explains it well.

The late squeeze of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is not dead and was never his girlfriend. In fact, she was never anybody at all.

In a shocking report on Deadspin Wednesday, the website said the girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed and that Te’o, who publicly drew inspiration from her “death” during a Heisman-caliber season, was part of the hoax.

It also claimed Kekua’s existence was perpetrated by a former California high school quarterback named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22.

The story quoted a source saying Te’o and Tuiasosopo are “family, or at least family friends.” It said Deadspin “spoke with friends and relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who asserted that Ronaiah was the man behind Lennay,” maintaining her identity through a Twitter account.

An hour or so after the story posted, Notre Dame released a statement saying Te’o had been the victim of a “hoax” in which someone used the fictitious name Lennay Kekua to build an online relationship with Te’o, before conspiring with others to convince him she had died of leukemia in September.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said at a press conference Wednesday night that Te’o, 21, was the victim, that the university hired independent investigators after learning of the scheme on Dec. 26, and that those investigators had identified the perpetrators — though he did not identify them.

Manti T’eo finishes second in the Heisman Trophy voting this season.

When asked why he believes Te’o wasn’t “in on it,” Swarbrick said he is “comfortable with the consistency” of the stories Te’o told the university and the facts uncovered by the investigators.

Te’o, who Swarbrick said is expected to tell his full side of the story as early as Thursday, did not learn he had been scammed until he got a phone call the first week of December from the same number he had allegedly used to contact Lennay, according to the athletic director.

It sure was some hoax: Te’o’s father, Brian, told the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune that the pair had met in person in November 2009 after Stanford — where Kekua was enrolled — beat the Irish, 45-38.

Te’o leads Notre Dame into the BCS title game against Alabama.

Last Sept. 11, Te’o’s grandmother, Annette Santiago, 72, died. It was later reported Kekua also died.

“Painful and humiliating,” Te’o, who is expected to be selected in April’s NFL draft, said in a statement of how it felt to learn the truth. “It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.”

[From The NY Daily News]

I don’t believe that this guy was duped. USA Today points us to this postgame video interview, after Notre Dame beat Michigan State on September 15 (supposedly 4 days after his fake girlfriend “died”) in which Te’o says he hopes to see his girlfriend’s family “again.”

It’s possible that T’eo developed an intense emotional relationship with someone online, and that he was fooled. I would have bought that story five years ago, but not today when everyone has iPads and cameras built into their laptops. People Skype and use Facetime, and somehow this guy never asked to see his “girlfriend” on camera? I’m not buying it. I’ve heard stories about this, though, and I’ve seen “Catfish.” (I mean I watched most of it, I gave up about 3/4 through when it started to drag.) There are some sick people out there who get their kicks from assuming fake identities online. Maybe he got duped, but I doubt it.

There’s a follow-up story on TMZ with more details on this story along with how Te’o allegedly found out he was victimized. (Which is partially covered in the story above, but TMZ gives bullet points.) Supposedly he was going to come clean to the press before he got scooped by Deadspin. That’s a likely story. T’eo is going to hold a press conference today, which should be interesting.

Photos via Facebook, CBS News

 

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133 Responses to “Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend was a hoax: was he in on it?”

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  1. Jcamp11 says:

    If you watch him in interviews–over and over–he is a drama queen. He is NOT a dummy. He ran a public campaign to win the Heisman and boost his chances in the draft as a marquee player. I read an extensive article last night–there is no way he wasn’t in on it.

    • Jayna says:

      Exactly, Jcamp. Morning Joe Scarborough really went into it this morning, how he fell for it, and brought up Te’o's interviews, and how his son was saying something is off and Joe and others just fell for it.

    • Relli says:

      That was EXACTLY my thoughts too, this was to bolster his chance for the Heisman.

      I watch way more ESPN than I would like to admit, but its my trade off with my husband for all the RHW and Bravo hes forced to watch with me. I refer to it as the shouting old man channel.

    • Tori says:

      his chances were pretty much set for being a top draft pick–this has been the common wisdom for years now. The Heisman would have been a great way to cap it all off, but it was not necessary to make him a top draft choice-he’s already been ranked as the number one choice in fact for months now.

      Furthermore, he had a chance to go to colleges with better teams originally, he chose ND for whatever reason. Not exactly strategic there either.

      So to think he would have done this purely for publicity or for sympathy votes doesn’t make a lot of sense. The gay cover does though, for sure.

  2. Riana says:

    People get duped to this day, it’s not so hard to avoid the camera when interacting with other human beings online, especially since there is a lot of online manipulation.

    That being said beware the mind that makes up a dead girlfriend to bolster it’s own image. I don’t think this guy was an innocent victim, it’s just disturbing he made up something for the sake of appearing a little more sympathetic. It’s not the same as Lance, but the awareness and manipulation of public empathy is similar.

  3. bopit says:

    Whether he was or wasn’t in on it, I don’t know. But it’s indisputable that both parties put an ungodly amount of time into this “relationship” and either fabricating or buying into this whole thing.

  4. marie says:

    This is not a case of Catfish. Te’o knew, I don’t know that he orchestrated it, but he was definitely in on it. And for the time being of course Notre Dame is going to back him, like you said he’s highly decorated and no one likes egg on their face.

    As for the Heisman, while he did get the most votes by a defensive player to date, he still fell way short of Manziel and he was virtually non-existant in the championship game.

  5. brin says:

    The more I hear, the more incredible it is to believe he was duped.

    • hoya_chick says:

      Exactly Brin, I was watching a basketball game last night on ESPN and saw something on the scroll thingy about a football player and his fake gf dying of leukemia. I don’t watch football but I love a good gossip/scandal story!! So I looked it up and found the deadspin story. Lol I read it twice! There is just so much that doesn’t add up. Like the claim that he spent hours on the phone with her when she was in the hospital, he definitely knew the guy who supposedly perpetrated the hoax (and the guy knew the girl who’s photos were used after telling her some ridiculous story to get 1 in particular). He claimed to meet her after a game when actually it was through twitter and on and on. A lot of it seems like the press took little bits and pieces and then took dramatic licenses without doing any sort of research or fact checking and then the whole thing snowballed with him adding to the lore. I mean she dies on the same day his grandmother dies and then he plays a fantastic game and gets the game ball in her honor!? You can’t make this stuff up….hahaha oh wait?

      I am much too much of a cynic to even date online much less have an entire relationship without ever seeing and meeting the person face to face. So this whole thing is so crazy and unfathomable to me.

      The University is standing behind him because it doesn’t seem like a crime was committed and he is a nationally known star player. I can’t wait for his press conference today. What is he going to say? So strange.

  6. Elceibeno08 says:

    Another attention whore freak. He should call Ryan Seacrest and ask for his own reality tv show.

  7. Winnie says:

    I don’t know what to think. The deadspin piece was a quite a read. Because he is Mormon I could buy having a long distance girlfriend you are not intimate with, but the no video chats thing doesn’t make sense.

    I’ve heard another theory that he is gay and this made up gf would help him hide that.

    I thought in the clip you posted he was saying he knew he would see his grandma and girlfriend again, not the gf’s family. Although still a lie since he hasn’t seen the gf before either.

    • Jayna says:

      He might be gay, but he didn’t need a beard this elaborate. It was about the hype and loving the publicity and the Heisman. This was a setup that just grew and grew with his friend setting it up. It was disgusting. I have read all the timelines and everything he did and said and how he milked it. It really is despicable and doesn’t say much for him as a person.

    • Esmom says:

      I think I buy the gay theory — and that they had the girlfriend die to end the ruse and also to then have a cover for never Manti having a girlfriend again. I’d also believe that it started as a harmless gay cover that got way out of hand as his star coincidentally started to rise.

      And to those who are saying he is worse than Lance, I say uh…no way. No one’s worse than Lance, lol!

      • Kim says:

        If he says he is Gay I don’t believe he will be drafted

      • Em says:

        I buy the gay theory, too. I think he may have been asked around the locker room about a GF, he said he was in a long-distance relationship, and then his friends/teammates started asking why she didn’t come to games, where were the pics of them together, etc. So Manti makes up a story about his GF first having a serious car wreck and later getting terminal cancer to put his teammates off about why this girl was never around. Teammates talk, coaches hear, and then it spreads to school officials who think it makes for a great story. It’s pushed to the press, who run the story without fact-checking, and snowballs from there. I don’t think it started out as a publicity stunt to bolster his Heisman campaign, but I do think he decided to keep up the ruse because it was getting him a lot of notice by Heisman voters and the NFL.

      • Esmom says:

        @Em, That explanation makes the most sense.

        @Kim, why wouldn’t be be drafted? Is the NFL that homophobic?

        I guess now the question is will this hoax hurt his chances of being drafted?

    • Cazzee says:

      It sounds like the girlfriend was really a boyfriend, and when people started wanting to meet ‘her’, the Mormon football star and his main squeeze concocted the story of first the car accident and then the leukemia.

      Samoan culture is very traditional. I think a few bad decisions were made to lie about the relationship to people at the beginning for cover, and then it just snowballed from there.

      • darlia says:

        Samoan culture is traditional, but the stigma attached to being gay is not as strong actually as it is on the mainland because family ties are binding and you back family no matter what. I lived in Mantai’s town of Laie for college(I’m Mormon), and there was a huge group of out and proud Polynesian men there who were close with their families, went to church regardless, and could kick anyone’s ass who attempted to mess with them. Without even messing up their lip liner even. lol

  8. DeltaJuliet says:

    Oh come on. There is no way he wasn’t in on this. I guess maybe I’ve become jaded, but he sure talked a lot about it for him to have NOT been in on it. People know America loves a good sob story, and he played into it. I hope he’s severely disciplined. Playing on others sympathies is despicable.

    And for the record, I don’t follow college sports AT ALL, and I knew who he was and about the “dead girlfriend” storyline. So…..

  9. Leek says:

    Norte Dame is backing his story?! Wow. When my uncle went there you had to be pretty smart to be there. I guess things have changed. He needs psychiatric attention in addition to the adoration he needs so desperately. What a loser.

  10. Kim says:

    Well he comes out looking like an idiot either way.I just saw a Catfish episode where the guy was online dating a Blonde chick for seven years.It turned it was a Black Gay guy who had done this to hundred straight guys.

  11. aims says:

    I feel he was in on it the whole time. Crazy.

  12. Jayna says:

    What a loser, zero character as a person. Of course, he was in on it when you really follow the timeline and all he was saying to the media. Mindblowing is what it is. People were crying over his loss when he would talk about it.

  13. andy says:

    Lindsay Lohan just found her next boyfriend.

    This story is just strange.

  14. The Original Mia says:

    I believe he was in on it. I could buy that he maybe didn’t know in the beginning, but he went with it once he found out because it was a great, sappy, inspirational story and he wanted the Heisman & to be the #1 draft pick. He milked this story for all it was worth. He may be an excellent LB, but he got his a$$ handed to him in the national championship game. His value was already hurt by that. This might drop him out of top 10, hence playing the victim card. Again.

    I don’t trust Notre Dame’s investigation as far as I could heave a football. These are the same folks that investigated the allegations of rape against one of their football players and the girl ended up committing suicide.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh yeah, ND is notorious for cover ups. Anything to protect their program. Them spinning Manti as the victim is truly pathetic. Especially in light of the recent Lance stuff, I can’t believe they think the public will swallow their lies.

    • Ann says:

      Of course Notre Dame is backing him. They’ll do anything to protect their precious football program. Even engage in cover ups and witness intimidation where they feel necessary.

      Everyone should read this chilling account of sexual assault perpetrated by football players, and the following threats to the victims.
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2012/12/04/why-i-wont-be-cheering-for-old-notre-dame/

      And if it seems impossible, remember Penn State, and how child molestation by someone involved in the football program was covered up for years.

      It really is time to clamp down on this win at all costs culture. Programs that are caught engaging in these crimes should be be shut down. It’s the only way to grab people’s attention.

      • StaCat1 says:

        Yes…ND’s reactions to this insanity and foolishness and then their blase downright cruel dismissiveness for years of women victimized at their school.

        The AD was crying for God’s sake over Teo’s “naivity” -whatever!
        They slandered and dragged Seeberg’s name through the dirt.

  15. Merritt says:

    I have no idea if he was in on it.

    Although anyone Notre Dame backs is questionable to me. They have a history of supporting rapists on their football team too. So a fake girlfriend would be a step up for them.

  16. Megan says:

    An Arizona player is claiming he met her… This keeps getting weirder! Anyway Charles Woodson was a defensive player who beat out Peyton Manning for the Heisman in 1997… That’s the last and maybe only time a defensive player has won.

  17. Esmom says:

    What’s also mind boggling is how the national media bought and ran with his story and no one bothered to check any facts. Simple things, like no death records for a woman with that name. No record of her attending Stanford, where they supposedly met (in person).

    Granted this story isn’t significant in the grand scheme of life and the world but it makes you wonder how much of stuff that’s reported is never ever fact checked.

  18. MG says:

    I’m not sure but I kind of believe him. It happens to people all the time as shown on Catfish. An explanation of some of things he said could be that he was embarrassed he had an online gf so he made it seem more than that. I could buy that.

    • Esmom says:

      That’s exactly what he’s saying. Possibly plausible, except that his family was in on it, too, then, which is really bizarre. His dad was quoted earlier in the season as saying that she would fly to Hawaii to visit him/them. (“Dad, can you help cover for my online relationship by pretending that I’ve seen her?”)

      I can’t imagine the energy it took to keep up the lies, all while trying to focus on school and playing on the #1 ranked college football team.

      • MG says:

        I’ve been watching the story on ESPN and it’s getting so complicated. Some Cardinal’s football player is saying she is real, he has met her. What the hell!?! It will be interesting to see what happens when the whole truth comes out. I hope for Notre Dame’s sake he is telling the truth since they came out and supported him.

      • renee says:

        I went to college with his dad Brian. He’s the salt of the earth kind of guy and a very religious man, I don’t buy for one minute he was in on this at all. I think his son lied to him, and since his son is so admired amongst his family and treated like an example to follow, his father believed his stories.

  19. Skeptical At Best says:

    I didn’t know about this story until I read about it last night so I hadn’t realized that the “gf died of leukemia” was something that came out a while ago. This is sounding mad suspect. Could someone be that arrogant to think they can get away with something like that in the investigative era we are in?

    • Esmom says:

      But he did get away with it for a pretty long time — long enough to make the cover of Sports Illustrated, at least. People are just suckers for inspirational stories (see Lance A.), I guess.

      Another weird thing is that he supposedly came clean to ND on Dec. 26. Why sit on the news for so long?

      • Kate says:

        According to something I read, he received a call on Dec. 6 from the “dead” girlfriend, which tipped him off. He sat on it a hell of a lot longer than Dec. 26 and look at how much coverage there was on the issue leading up to the national championship game. Even if he didn’t know until Dec. 6 (and I’m not buying that), he allowed it to continue and reaped the benefits while the media hyped the national championship game.

  20. MrsB says:

    There is just so much crazy in this story, it’s unbelievable. Even if he was fooled by somebody online, he is not a victim because he willingly went on tv and lied repeatedly about meeting her in person. But the bigger question is how does this go on for so long without anybody checking his story out??

  21. Kate says:

    There are too many inconsistencies for him to not have been in on it at least at some point. I am ok buying that he was originally duped, but he played it up and exaggerated it, even if he believed she existed.

    Look at the South Bend paper coverage where he talks about meeting her in person in 2009, but the ND AD says it was exclusively an “online” relationship. It isn’t adding up. His parents are “sources” for confirming that he meet with her in Hawaii on multiple occassions.

    And add me to the camp that thinks that there may be an “in the closet” aspect to this.

    Also, he was NOT the most decorated collegiate athlete of all time. Not even close. He came to the national forefront this year, his senior year, in large part due to an article in Sports Illustrated which played up this girlfriend’s death angle and due to ND’s undefeated season. His performance in the national championship game was horrifically bad. Don’t believe the hype.

    • Esmom says:

      I think the biggest inconsistency is his backpedaling to say it was exclusively an online relationship. Even if that’s true, when someone is dying/dies you’d think that would change things. So he never even personally met her or her family around her illness or death? Especially as he’s talking to the national media about it? That just seems so unlikely and leads me to think it was a hoax he was in on from the start.

      Also, as someone said somewhere else, no one has an online relationship without Skyping these days. It seems impossible that he could never have seen her and that some guy alone could have fooled him.

  22. j.eyre says:

    What a bizarre story. Shameful and bizarre.

    Out of curiosity, CB, who is your dad’s NFL team and who does he think is going to the Superbowl?

  23. ms.steel says:

    he can contact Reba, the actual girl used in pic and ask her if shes ok to go out with him. the love story can still continue. at least shes not dead!
    the other boy who duped him can be sued? dunno but anyway i dont actually understand whats going on.

  24. Relli says:

    I read the whole deadspin article yesterday and was positively stunned. The only thing that holds me back from believing he wad duped or catfished is that his family went along with it…. Thats some super delusional sh!t

  25. Steph says:

    The father said that they HAD met in person before.

    • nina says:

      nah, the dad said he hadn’t met her and it was the plan to meet for the senior day ND game. He said he talked to her once on the phone, and they had looked forward to meeting her cause they thought he was serious about her.

      • Esmom says:

        But the dad did say that she flew to Hawaii a couple times to meet Manti. Granted that doesn’t mean he was involved. He could have just believed any lie that his son told him and passed it to the media.

      • nina says:

        I tend to think that Manti’s story about the gf was made up more for his family than anyone else, that’s why I don’t think he’s involved. I think ruse started out for his parents(I kinda buy he may be in the closet and by his early 20s would be expected to maybe be engaged by this point as a Mormon Polynesian member, especially since he was graduating this year and didn’t go on a mission), it took on a life of its own, he got swept away with it for awhile, and is now in deep shit.

  26. lucy2 says:

    I read a summary of this last night, it was so confusing!
    Given that the guy who orchestrated it all is a friend of his, and that it was a story he spoke about publicly, I’m leaning towards him being involved.

    I can’t understand calling someone your “girlfriend” if you’ve never actually met, talked, etc. Very strange.

    I feel badly for the girl who’s photo they used, she had nothing to do with it and now her face is everywhere.

    I’m really baffled by the people claiming they actually met her – she doesn’t exist! Everyone wants a piece of the fame, and now it’s all blowing up in their faces.

  27. nina says:

    I think he’s a gay kid who’s Mormon at a Catholic university playing football. he made up a story as a cover for the fact he’s NEVER dated in college to anyone’s knowledge, and then the story took on a life of its own.

    Kinda sad, but dumb.

  28. Annie says:

    Of course he was in on it! My God. Why would you claim an online relationship is real? Are you 12? What man of his age has an internet gf and gets duped like this? It’s not like he’s the grandma falling for the Nigerian Prince e-mail hoax. Illogical. He grew up with the Internet, he knows how it works. No way he let himself be fooled like this especially when he’s famous and has money.

    Use your brains, for the love of God. Most of you are too old to give idiots like these the benefit of the doubt. People will do ANYTHING for fame. He just never thought the lie would be exposed. Why are you telling people a sob story like this, a tragedy you didn’t go through, if not for attention?

    So embarrassing.

    • renee says:

      actually, I know a couple of Mormon young adults who have very intense internet relationships in part cause they can’t go past closed mouth kissing if they want to go to the temple. So sometimes long distance or online relationships are preferred to keep away “temptation.” It’s not unheard of for his age and religious affiliation.

      • Annie says:

        This:

        “Upon receiving the news of the two deaths, Te’o went out and led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State, racking up 12 tackles. It was heartbreaking and inspirational.”

        Tells me all I need to know.

      • renee says:

        I mentioned up top I think he’s lying actually. I’m just saying his cover story is not uncommon for young Mormon guys and girls due to their strict code of physical conduct. And I don’t think he even did it for publicity so much as to hide he’s probably gay and people were beginning to wonder why he never had a gf all throughout college, and never dated. I think once the story took on a life of its own, he was just covering his ass more and more and hiding behind his faith to not uncover the truth.

  29. ms.steel says:

    imaginary friends, things… they exist everywhere!

  30. Masque says:

    Here is the most damning part (imo): his girlfriend died and he DIDN’T GO TO HER FUNERAL! I’ve never met anyone who wouldn’t go to the funeral of their girlfriend/boyfriend.

  31. TxGal says:

    Another Armstrong (deny, deny, deny)

  32. MST says:

    I know this is off-topic but he is totally hot, even though he is young enough to be my son. Those Pacific Islander men are fine (purrs and flexes cougar claws . . .)

  33. Thiajoka says:

    One thing is for certain, Notre Dame would never admit one of its more talented football players is in on a hoax, anymore than any other college sports organization would–they cover stuff up for athletes constantly.

  34. judyjudy says:

    What a weird, weird story.

  35. Maggs says:

    I read somewhere people think he’s gay and that he went to ND cause that is where his boyfriend went. Whole thing sounds fishy, I think he was in on it.

  36. DreamyK says:

    In on it. Heisman Hoax.

    Here’s my experience with liars: they add as many details as possible to keep the lie going because they believe that details equal truthiness. “Yeah, I went to Chipolte and got a burrito bowl. Man those grilled veggies are the bomb! There was this girl there and I was totally checking her out because she was sitting near me. She was annoying because every few minutes her cell phone would ring..damn. Doesn’t she know to put her phone to vibrate?”

    See? These are just everyday details, probably based on things the person had actually done/seen in the past, a conglomerate of past experiences that had a ring of truth to them..but were total BS to set the foundation for the really big lie the person is about to drop.

    You would think that ND would look at what happened at Penn State and not go the deny, deny, deny route. It will cost them respect, dignity and, in the longer run, financial commitments.

  37. Maggs says:

    Submitted by blaase on Thu, 01/17/2013 – 1:14am.
    That Notre Dame football player is gay. I live in Hawaii and have a friend that was in his graduating class in high school and told me everyone knew then. He didn’t choose Notre Dame until they offered a scholarship to his boyfriend ( not a highly rated player at all) and then they both went there.
    *************************************************

    I believe that. too bad being gay in the most butt slapping, groping sport is considered taboo.

    what’s rosary/pearl clutching is the lie-telling to such a level.

  38. hannah says:

    all I see is a closet case with a fake girlfriend

  39. Kim says:

    This GF was talked about in 2009 he didn’t create her to win the Heisman.He probably killed her off because the lie became too stressful.I read a teammate told the press about her death which made him have to lie some more.I feel for him.I have a Gay cousin who had a fake girlfriend for years when he was in the Army.

    • Esmom says:

      If this is true, and it definitely seems plausible, I wish he would come clean with the real story. Instead we get more hard to swallow lies piled on top of lies.

      What’s the worst that could happen? His family disowns him. His football career goes down the drain. I guess I could see why he’d lie.

    • emma says:

      He’s not some 13-yr-old kid just discovering the internet and either 1) lying to create a gf to look cooler or 2) dumb enough to be duped by someone faking it.

      Maybe he did create a fake gf to prevent being hit on or being pressured in situations by other chickas wanting to hit it… but he went to a Catholic university. Sure, debauchery goes on there just as anywhere, but he could have easily (IF this is the case) said he’s not interested, or find a nice decent lass to prudently date.

  40. amanda says:

    I would feel for the girl in the photos if she hadn’t sent a picture of herself holding a MSMK sign without knowing what it meant. Who does that?

    No one seems innocent in all of this mess but maybe I’m just too cynical. They were together for a year, were considered boyfriend/girlfriend and it never progressed to texting? Sexting? Skyping? Facetime? Your girlfriend dies and you don’t go to the funeral? Plz.

    • Esmom says:

      Yea, I know, I was feeling for her too, thinking her photo was chosen completely randomly, until she sent that one photo when asked. Who does that without questioning anything? Everything about this story is crazy. Hence my fascination :)

      • Kloops says:

        The Deadspin article explains why she did that. I don’t know if she was involve, but iIt doesn’t seem likely given the various twitter timelines and known relationships. Considering how careless everyone has been, if she was involved it’d be pretty easy to produce some evidence. So far there isn’t any.

        I think he was in on it with his buddy Tuaisosopo. Would not be surprised at all if it originally started out as a deflection for his sexuality and then spun out of control.

      • Esmom says:

        Yes I saw the explanation of why she did it — to supposedly help the cousin of an acquaintance or something.

        I guess what threw me off is that the article first portrayed the photo girl as completely randomly chosen, but then it goes on to say that she actually did communicate with the people who were running the hoax. So not so random after all.

        And I don’t know, I don’t think I’d send a photo of myself to the friend of a friend no matter how charitable it might supposedly be. That’s just a little too weird.

        Agree that it seems pretty clear that Manti and his buddy concocted the whole thing together and it got away from them, as you said.

    • Tiffany says:

      What does MSMK mean? And don’t worry, I won’t be holding a sign with it on there!

  41. emma says:

    Te’o HAD to have known- “speaking to her every night”, “seeing her in Hawai’i”, and as you point out – talking about seeing her family again.

    This is SUCH a weird story. It’s kind of disturbing as well. He’s a football player who didn’t need to conjure up a stupid story about his gf dying the same day (or soon after) his poor grandmother.

    Johnny Football didn’t need any gross sympathetic story to win the Heisman.

    • StaCat1 says:

      There are SO many holes in this story. Too many discrepencies of times when he says things happened. And he never corrected people about where they met…it’s all too too fishy. I don’t think he was played AT ALL.
      he is playing the media/public.

  42. Lulu says:

    A girl called in to a radio station I was listening to this am and said she goes to St. Mary’s which is the sister school to Notre Dame and his girlfriend (a real one) goes there. They have been dating for almost a year. So yeah, he has been totally scamming this.

    • emma says:

      So what’s the point? Just saying he’s close to his grandmother & kept playing blah blah blah would have been ‘inspirational’ enough. If he really does have a gf, why bother pretending to have a different gf who dies?

      • StaCat1 says:

        His teammates have come forward and said they thought it was all weird too. Many of them have said- he did love attention.
        Some people do insane things for attention. Many times it makes no sense- and I’m sure he and his buddy never thought they would get caught..but once you tell a lie…it becomes more lies.

  43. Tori says:

    if he is gay and was trying to hide it, and this continues to blow up and maybe even affect how people see him for the upcoming draft, I’m a little concerned about him self-harming. By most accounts he is known for a really nice guy on campus, very loyal to his family and loyal to his church. If he is gay, and the secrets out, and he feels like he let down his family and church, people have been known to self-harm for less cause.

  44. Kim says:

    CNN .com says dead fake GF tweeted last night

  45. Holden says:

    I’m starting to feel awful for this kid, he probably made a mistake, let’s move on. He’ll be judged by the pros.

  46. Dawn says:

    Boy this is a tough one. I don’t know what to believe. But everyone is sure talking about it. If he didn’t know that it was a hoax I really feel for him. I guess I have to wait for even more facts. Poor guy.

  47. Gabrielle says:

    I love the show and movie Catfish. The show especially is hilarious because people fall for ridic stories from online lovers. The producer of Catfish wants to make a documentary about this. I hate sports but would totally watch it.

  48. kate says:

    I didn’t know anything about the guy AT ALL before the Rose Bowl. Not a thing. I was at a Rose Bowl party and before the game ESPN (or whatever channel the game was on) did a profile on Manti T’eo and a friend (I think it was another player from the other school?) I dont remember. Thats not the point. THE POINT IS, I watched the short clip/profile of MANTI T’EO and my gaydar went OFF. I told my husband, “that guy gives me major gay vibes” and he said that NO, he had a serious gf and she had died in the fall.

    DUDE IS GAY and his cover story got BLOWN out of proportion once he realized that it was helping his heisman campaign.

    ITS OK Manti, come on out and fess up. Maybe even OPRAH will let you cry on her shoulder. Girl needs the ratings these days.

  49. kate says:

    Fast forward 10 years. Oprah’s couch. Manti giving the old sob story fess up. Torture of a young gay athlete FORCED to lie and lead thousands of people to believe him as straight- not at ALL trying to get the heisman. Its OK that I lied so elaborately people. After all I was a tortured youth! I never saw the possiblity of exposure, sympathy and love from the masses in order to get more heisman votes, never, NEVER! scouts honor!

    • Kim says:

      Why lie and say you feel sorry for him and then minutes later leave that comment mocking him? I just read article about a Gay Mormon guy who committed suicide after being excommunicated and rejected by his family.So I guess I’m hypersensitive .Im going offline and hoping nothing bad happens.Peace

  50. Marianne says:

    I have no idea who he is…but he must be in on it.

    I mean first of all, the real girl of those pictures came forward and said she doesn’t even know him. If that wasn’t his girlfriend, why wouldn’t he just say…well thats not my girlfriend. Secondly, if his girlfriend was really dead, don’t you think he would have called her parents or something. Which obviously he didn’t do, cause then they would have been like “No, she’s not dead”.

  51. someone says:

    It is pretty convenient that he supposedly found out she wasn’t dead on Dec. 6th. Balloting for the Heisman award was done on Dec. 3rd – now he can claim he had no idea he was hoaxed before the Heisman was decided.

    Someone needs to check his phone records to see if he ever really talked to someone impersonating the fake girl. That will unequivocally prove if he was in on it. The supposed phone calls are the lie that will unravel it all.

  52. Anna says:

    if you read the original deadline article, Manti is definitely In On It. So so sad. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. This talented young man has no reason to do this. must be some awful people around him.

  53. TheRealTea says:

    I think he’s gay. Its the most logical conclusion. Its unfortunate, but think about it, how many “out” football players are there currently? (& Im not counting the DL action lol) I just don’t believe that the NFL world is that evolved really. Doesn’t excuse what that kid did though. Probably his bad vibes that made them eat it while playing Alabama! That guilt is a bit*ch, especially when you’re fairly religious.

  54. Nicolette says:

    Wow, made up a girlfriend that doesn’t exist, with an elaborate sob story to go with it. Why does this remind me of the whole Casey Anthony/Zenaida Gonzalez thing?