Manti Te’o and Notre Dame have both issued statements in response to Deadspin’s story that Te’o’s girlfriend is a hoax, and they both say the linebacker was a victim in the situation. You can read our summarized story on it, or go to Deadspin for the original, full story.
Here is the statement from Notre Dame, which came through first.
“On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.”
Here is Te’o’s statement on the matter:
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was a defensive standout for the Fighting Irish this season. He led Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship game and became a Heisman Trophy candidate in the process. Along the way, Te’o’s play was supposedly inspired by personal tragedy. His grandmother died in September, and his girlfriend supposedly died of leukemia the same day. Media outlets made Te’o’s perseverance during a time of personal tragedy a central focus during the season. Te’o was lauded for playing so well while in mourning; he had 12 tackles in a win over Michigan State — his first game since the deaths.
Now, thanks to some incredible, mind-blowing investigative reporting by Deadspin, we’re learning that Te’o’s alleged girlfriend is a hoax. She never existed. The pictures of her on her supposed Twitter account were of another woman. Te’o’s family never met her. Te’o himself never even attended her funeral. Deadspin blew the lid off the story in an incredible piece that we highly recommend you read. We’ll post a summary of the story below.
Deadspin’s Timothy Burke told Doug Gottlieb on the radio that the site was tipped in an email that there was something fishy going on with Manti Te’o’s girlfriend. They began investigating and they learned that the details surrounding the supposed death of his girlfriend were mismatched in many areas.
Te’o’s girlfriend supposedly was named Lennay Marie Kekua. The two supposedly met after Notre Dame played Stanford in Palo Alto in 2009. Kekua supposedly was a Stanford student, and the two supposedly exchanged phone numbers after the game. The South Bend Tribune reported that Kekua would travel to Hawaii to be with Te’o when he was there.
Sometime in 2012, Kekua supposedly was in a car accident. She supposedly died of leukemia the same day his grandmother died — Sept. 12, 2012 (Te’o says he received a call from Kekua’s brother informing him of her death). Te’o’s 72-year-old grandmother did, in fact, die, though the story about Kekua was fabricated.
An ESPN story shares two details that seem to suggest something was up. Te’o supposedly had been dating Kekua for at least a year, but his family never had met her. He also missed her funeral to play against Michigan. The funeral was supposedly a week and a half after her passing: