Manti Te’o speaks out on fake online relationship: “never, ever would I be part of this”
PIX11– Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o told ESPN he had no part of creating a fake girlfriend or the elaborate story that the made up woman died tragically of cancer last September.
“Never, ever would I be part of this.” Te’o said in the exclusive interview.
This was the first interview by the Heisman Trophy Finalist since DeadSpin broke the story earlier this week.
Te’o says he really believed he was in an online relationship with a woman named Lennay Kekua…
and that he was convinced she died on the same day as his grandmother in the middle of the football season.
But Te’o says he lied to reporters about having met his supposed girlfriend in person.
Te’o told ESPN:
“I knew that, you know, I even knew that it was crazy that I was with someone that I didn’t meet, and let alone people find out that this girl who died who I was so invested in, I didn’t meet her as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that “yeah he met her” before she passed away, so that people wouldn’t think I was some crazy dude.”
Te’o says he even lied to his family about meeting the made up woman in Hawaii last year.
But after receiving a phone call on December 6th from someone claiming Kekua was alive, Te’o says he became suspicous.
20 days later he says he went to the University to alert them about the situation.
And on January 16th, the day the DeadSpin article broke,
Te’o says he received direct twitter messages from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, apologizing for the hoax.
Te’o told ESPN he believes Tuiasosop and two other people created Lennay Kekua, but that they never asked for any money.
Turns out creating a fictious person for an online dating relationship is not new.
The 2010 documentary “Catfish” details one case of the Hoax and MTV now has a regular show telling the stories of other “Catfishing” victims.
Author and online dating expert Laurie Davis says Te’o’s story is not uncommon.
Davis says it’s likely the pranksters made up a tragic car accident and cancer to build a connection with Te’o.
“You feel so emotionally connected that you’re willing to forego the fact that you’ve never met.” said Laurie Davis, author of “Love at First Click.”
But Davis also says the fact that a “catfish” is usually unwilling to meet in person usually makes the deception fizzle out pretty quickly.
“In normal online dating circumstances you would not go a year without meeting them.”
But Te’o claims his relationship with the made up woman lasted at least twice that long. Making this the ultimate “catfish” or Te’o a complete fool.