Manti Te’o denies involvement in girlfriend hoax

Published On January 20, 2013 | By Kimberly Petalas

There is still a lot of confusion when it comes to Manti Te’o and the girlfriend hoax. Te’o sat down for a two and a half hour exclusive interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on January 18 to talk about the situation.

There has been some speculation as to whether or not Te’o was in fact involved with the set up of this hoax. He has denied this rumor.

“There is no way I could be a part of this,” Te’o said.

According to ESPN, Te’o claims he did not know that his “girlfriend” Lennay Kekua did not exist at all until two days before the interview.

It was then that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitted that he made up Kekua, gave her a fake twitter, and made Te’o “fall in love” with her.

Te’o first met Tuiasosopo after a Notre Dame game on Nov. 24. According to both Te’o and his uncle, Tuiasosopo was a family friend.

“I hope he learns,” Te’o said of Tuiasosopo. “I hope he understands what he’s done. I don’t wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough.”

Te’o says that he met Kekua during his freshman year at Notre Dame. He claims they had a spiritual connection and even though he said he knew it was weird to have never met, he fell in love with her and lied to his father about meeting her.

“I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet,” he said. “And that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well.”

The hoax first became evident in early December, months after Kekua had died. Te’o received a call on Dec. 6 from a number that he believed to be Kekua’s and the voice on the other end was hers as well. The impersonator claimed that she faked her death to evade drug charges and wanted to rekindle their relationship. Te’o confirmed these facts during the Jan. 18 interview.

Te’o informed Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick of the possible hoax on Dec. 26 and the school hired some investigators to check out the situation. The investigative firm released their findings to the school on Jan. 4, and Te’o’s family heard the next day.

Through all of the drama with this hoax, Swarbrick stands by Te’o, saying he was a victim.

“We believe based on our investigation and based on four years of experience that Manti’s the victim of this hoax,” Swarbrick said on his podcast, which was published on Friday. “I don’t think you spend that much time with a kid and then the first time’s there’s a challenge, not continue to offer that support. I do it both because of the way I feel about him and my knowledge of him over four years. But I also do it because of the evidence we have available to us.”

“Everything I have access to right now does nothing to shake my belief in Manti.”

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About The Author

Kimberly graduated from Hofstra University in December 2012. She has been a sports fan her whole life and grew up around sports, whether it was playing or watching them. She started her writing career interning for her local newspaper, The Gardner News, where she currently works as a reporter. In college, Kimberly wrote for Long Island Report, as well as Her Campus Hofstra.