Breaking Down Linebacker Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend Hoax
The story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his dead girlfriend has more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. The latest: the supposed deceased girlfriend tweeted Wednesday night.
The Twitter account, which has either deleted all previous tweets from the reactivated account or created an entirely new one, claims that the "truths" and "myths" surrounding the story will be addressed on Thursday. Hopefully, the truth will be sorted out sometime soon. Until then, here's what you need to know:
Returning Winter Shows: Where we left off
In September, Te'o claimed to lose his both grandmother, Annette Santiago, and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, in the span of six hours. Despite the losses, Te'o hit the field and helped lead Notre Dame to a 20-3 victory over Michigan State 20-3. 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 while the athlete did lose his grandmother, 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 Lennay Kekua's existence. The photographs which 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.
Winter TV's must-see new shows
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.
Golden Globes: Fashion hits and misses
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."
But just when everything seemed to point to a simple Internet hoax, an NFL player told ESPN that he knew Kekua. Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia told the network that he and Pittsburgh Steelers player Troy Polamalu had met Kekua before. "This was before her and Manti," Mauia said. "I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family."
Whoever is running the Twitter account associated with Kekua doesn't seem too pleased that Mauia and Polamalu have become involved in the story. "It isn't fair to drag Reagan and Troy into this.. a lot of truths and myths need to be addressed here, and they will be at noon PST tomorrow," the account wrote.
Whatever the truth is, it's clear that we all should set our DVRs for Catfish so this never happens again.
For more on the story, watch the video below