Manti Te'o Featured in New Netflix Documentary About Catfishing Hoax: 'My Whole World Changed'

·3 min read

A new Netflix documentary will explore one of the most talked about moments in recent college football history.

UNTOLD, Netflix's sports documentary series, will examine the story of Manti Te'o, the former Notre Dame football star who made headlines a decade ago when it was discovered he had been the target of a catfishing hoax.

The series' second volume will kick off on August 16 with The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist, a two-part documentary focusing on Te'o and how it unraveled that his supposed girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, whom he thought died of leukemia during his senior football season, didn't truly exist.

"My whole world changed," Te'o says in the trailer for the docuseries, which PEOPLE can exclusively premiere. "And I'm questioning everything."

The episode will also feature interviews with Naya Tuiasosopo — who had gone by Lennay Kekua with Te'o — where she shares that she is a transgender woman.

In a statement, directors and executive producers Chapman Way and Maclain Way said Te'o's story is "more complex and nuanced than we understood at the time."

"Our goal with UNTOLD has always been to take these moments in sports history —  whether infamous, like the Tim Donaghy betting scandal, or lesser-known, like the history of AND1 —  and give viewers an unfiltered, inside-access look at what really happened, told by the people who lived it. With each story we're continually surprised by our subjects —  at how vulnerable they are willing to be, but also how relatable their experiences and journeys are on a deep, human level," they say.

RELATED: Notre Dame Football Star Manti Te'o's Girlfriend Was a Hoax

"Our Volume 2 premiere is The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist, which explores the story behind college football star Manti Te'o's headline-grabbing online relationship," the pair adds. "It was impossible to miss this story when it first broke in 2012, but as viewers will see in the documentary, what really transpired is so much more complex and nuanced than we understood at the time. We're incredibly grateful to both Manti Te'o and Ronaiah 'Naya' Tuiasosopo for sharing their truths with us."

Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o

Joe Raymond/AP

Te'o was a star linebacker at Notre Dame when he announced that Kekua had died after battling leukemia in 2012.

"She's the most beautiful girl I have ever met, not because of her physical beauty but because of her character and who she is, she's just that person that I turn to," Te'o told ESPN at the time, according to CNN.

Te'o also said his grandmother died just hours before Kekua's death in September of that year. He claimed these tragedies inspired him, and he eventually helped Notre Dame reach the BCS National Championship during his senior year.

RELATED: Manti Te'o Speaks: 'I Wasn't Faking It'

But an investigation by Deadspin published in Jan. 2013 found no evidence Kekua ever existed. Not only were there no records of her, but the pictures Te'o said were Kekua's were discovered to be of a 22-year-old woman from Torrance, California, who said she never met the athlete.

Deadspin's report revealed Te'o and Kekua's supposed relationship did not start in person as the footballer had suggested. Instead, it began over Twitter in Oct. 2011.

It was eventually reported that Te'o was the victim of a catfishing prank planned by three people.

Te'o told ESPN that he had never met Kekua in person, and her picture was always blocked whenever they spoke over video chat. After being told of Kekua's death, Te'o said he felt uncomfortable telling the media he had never met her.

"I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet," he said. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away."

UNTOLD's second volume will also dig into the stories behind former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and his gambling scandal, AND1 sneakers and the America's Cup race.