Manti Te'o wasn't the person Ronaiah Tuiasosopo tried to fool with his lies.
A source tells the magazine that Tuiasosopo told the producers that he and his cousins, who had formed a Christian band, were on the way to a gig at a youth conference when they got into a car accident. Even though their car was struck by a truck and flipped along the freeway, every was miraculously saved.
His lies were apparently so believable, he even passed a psych evaluation and background check. Despite performing for new judges Shakira and Usher, as well as Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, no one turned their chairs around.
Tuiasosopo was allegedly behind hoax that had Te'o believing that Lennay Kekua, the woman he had been dating online, had died of cancer. Despite the death, Te'o hit the field and helped lead Notre Dame to a 20-3 victory over Michigan State. After the inspirational win, Te'o made various media appearances, sharing details of their relationship and letters she wrote him while ill. The linebacker even sent a letter to the parents of a sick child, sharing his experience and his grief.
But according to Deadspin, Te'o's uplifting tale is nothing but a hoax. On Wednesday, the website claimed that there are no records of Kekua's passing or the car crash which Te'o also claimed she was in. In fact, outside of Twitter and Instagram, there are no records of her existence. The photographs that online reports and TV outlets have identified as Kekua are actually of a California woman who has never met Te'o, been in a serious car accident and is very much alive.
After Deadspin's story broke, Notre Dame held a news conference, during which athletic director Jack Swarbrick asserted Te'o was unaware their relationship was a hoax because it was conducted entirely online and on the phone, according to CNN. Swarbrick went on to explain that a woman claiming to be Kekua called Te'o in December to tell him she wasn't dead. While the woman kept calling after that, Te'o never answered. Swarbrick's story sharply contradicts an article in the South Bend Tribune, which reports that the couple met after a football game. "Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te'o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes," the paper wrote. "They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te'o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009." The newspaper has since pulled the article from its website and claims the story was built on information from Te'o, his family and coaches.
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On Wednesday, Te'o released a statement, claiming that he is also only a victim of someone's "sick joke." "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her," Te'o explained. "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."
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