Oakland Raiders fans decided to have some fun with San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o on Sunday night. Fans in the infamous Black Hole had a banner made that was a tribute to Te’o's fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua, whose “death” supposedly occurred on Sept. 12, 2012. They also completed the set of Te’o taunts by holding a cutout of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who later admitted to masterminding the Te’o hoax. At some point these jokes will get old, but apparently we haven’t hit that point yet. Te’o actually played fairly well and was credited with five tackles in the loss, which marked his second career game.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was asked during his interview on “Dr. Phil” to perform the Lennay Kekua voice and initially appeared hesitant. Tuiasosopo, who was the mastermind behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, eventually agreed to recreate the voicemails Kekua left for the former Notre Dame linebacker, so long as he could perform in private conditions.
On Friday, Dr. Phil’s show aired the recreated voicemails attempted by Tuiasosopo. The two voices appeared to be a match:
Compare that to this voicemail Kekua supposedly left for Te’o on Sept. 11:
It seems like Tuiasosopo’s lawyer was telling the truth when he said the young man was responsible for the female voice. Sure, it’s possible that Tuiasosopo had family members assist him during the hoax, but it looks like he did most of the work.
Video via Bro Bible
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo spoke with Dr. Phil McGraw for his first interview since being exposed as the man behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax. One half of Tuiasosopo’s interview aired on “Dr. Phil” Thursday, and the other half will air Friday. Dr. Phil’s show left a big cliffhanger Thursday when they teased a preview of Tuiasosopo attempting to reenact the voice of “Lennay Kekua,” which is the fake identity he created to dupe the former Notre Dame linebacker.
Last week, Tuiasosopo’s attorney reportedly told the New York Daily News that his client was responsible for the female voice of Kekua. A relative disagreed, reportedly telling the New York Post that one of Tuiasosopo’s female cousins voiced the Kekua character. The relative believes that Ronaiah was just trying to cover for his cousin to accept all responsibility for the hoax.
Based on the clips from Dr. Phil’s program, it sure seems like Tuiasosopo did not provide the Kekua voice.
When pressed to give a sample of Kekua’s voice on the spot, Tuiasosopo was hesitant:
In an interview that is set to air on Thursday and Friday, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo reportedly briefly revealed to Dr. Phil McGraw that he is gay. Tuiasosopo admitted to being responsible for the entire Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax. He also described himself as romantically involved with Te’o, but it sounds like Ronaiah has confused even himself by creating the Lennay Kekua persona.
“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,’’ McGraw told NBC’s Today, via Pro Football Talk. “I asked him straight up, ‘Was this a romantic relationship with you?’ And he says yes. I said, ‘Are you then therefore gay?’ And he said, ‘When you put it that way, yes.’ And then he caught himself and said, ‘I am confused.’’’
Tuiasosopo also said that Te’o was “absolutely, unequivocally” not involved with the hoax in any way. Dr. Phil said that he spent several hours with Tuiasosopo and his family and that Ronaiah had a number of life experiences that “damaged him in very serious ways.”
In addition, we’re back to the original story about Tuiasosopo providing the voice for Kekua. Last week, a report surfaced that cited a Tuiasosopo cousin who said the voice of Kekua was almost certainly done by Tino Tuiasosopo, one of Ronaiah’s female cousins. Ronaiah told Dr. Phil that he was responsible for the voice on the phone.
We already heard before that Tuiasosopo could have intense feelings for Te’o, and that would make a lot of sense considering how deep he went with the hoax. Whatever the case, it’s pretty obvious that Ronaiah is a disturbed individual.
With each passing day, the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story seems to take a new turn. Earlier this week, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s lawyer Milton Grimes came out and admitted that Tuiasosopo was the voice behind Lennay Kekua. On Friday, the NY Post reported that it was actually Ronaiah’s female cousin, Tino Tiuasosopo, who spoke with Te’o on the phone for several months.
“Tino is the girl that Manti has been talking to all these months,” a relative of the Tuiasosopo family reportedly told the Post.
After listening to one of the voicemails that Te’o shared with Katie Couric on Thursday, the cousin said there is “no doubt whatsoever” that the voice belongs to Tino — not Ronaiah. So why would Ronaiah’s lawyer, of all people, insist that Ronaiah was the one playing the part of Kekua on the phone?
According to one Tuiasosopo relative, Ronaiah is determined to take all of the blame for the hoax and could be trying to protect others who were involved. In one of the voice recordings, Kekua became hysterical and was accusing Te’o of having another girl in his room. The cousin said the voice is an exact replica of Tino’s when she becomes upset.
“That’s the way [Tino] cries when she’s feeling sorry for herself,” the source said. “It’s her, that’s the voice.”
Tino was reportedly dumped from a long-distance relationship with a man in late 2011, and the source said that situation had “extraordinary similarities” with the one between Te’o and Kekua.
While there is no possible way to know who or what to believe at this point, I can confidently say one thing — the voice on those voicemails sounded like a woman. Ronaiah’s lawyer said he has voice and drama training, but I still find it hard to believe that someone could be that effective in posing as a woman. I’m far more inclined to believe that a female cousin provided the voice.
You can read all our stories on the Manti Te’o hoax here.
If Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is indeed the man behind the entire Manti Te’o hoax and it was truly his voice that we heard on all of those voicemails that were left for Te’o, we are now left wondering why. Is Tuiasosopo just a person who gets a rush from such an elaborate hoax. Does it make him feel in control? Or, is it possible that he was or is in love with Te’o?
According to TMZ, sources close to Tuiasosopo say that he had “intense feelings” for Te’o that developed over time. The sources say that Ronaiah has struggled with adapting to the expectations of his culture for a long time and that he has never had a serious physical relationship with anyone. It is believed that he created an online female persona as a way to vent his feelings.
As we now know, Tuiasosopo had Lennay Kekua return from the dead on Dec. 6, which basically blew the entire hoax open. According to TMZ’s sources, Tuiasosopo chose to do that because it was hard to walk away from Te’o and he wanted to reconnect — not because he wanted to come clean about the prank he had played.
At this point, nothing would surprise us. For someone to put forth as much effort as Tuiasosopo did throughout the entire hoax, there has to be something going on aside from giggling and entertainment. Ronaiah having feelings for Te’o would make a lot of sense.
You can read all our stories on the Manti Te’o hoax here.
Early Thursday morning, a report surfaced that may help us understand more about the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax. It was originally believed that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo had a woman posing as Lennay Kekua to speak with Te’o on the phone. However, Tuiasosopo’s lawyer said that Ronaiah was actually the voice behind Kekua.
On Thursday, Katie Couric’s show released several voicemails that Te’o says were left on his phone by Kekua.
If you listen to the audio clips below (via Deadspin), you will hear that the voice of “Lennay Kekua” is feminine sounding.
This is reportedly Kekua speaking to Te’o before her first chemotherapy session: