Manti Te’o's Girlfriend Was Not A Real Person, Was A ‘Catfish’ Style Hoax
Manti Te’o, the talisman of a stout Notre Dame defense last season, endured his fair share of hardship while leading the Fighting Irish to a BCS Championship Game appearance. Not only did he lose his grandmother to illness, but also his girlfriend to leukemia.
The problem, however, is that Manti Te’o's girlfriend didn’t exist.
Te’o's girlfriend, who was named Lennay Kekua, never existed as revealed by a lengthy report compiled by Deadspin. The report (which is worth the long read, by the way) chronicles a series of conflicting media reports and accounts from those involved, as well as journalistic errors by various reporters that were so willing to sell an inspirational story that they overlooked whether or not the person they were talking about even existed.
Examples of such conflicts include both Manti and father Brian Te’o speaking on the record about face to face meetings between Te’o and Kekua, which directly conflict with his admission that he had never met her after this story broke. Photos that were used in major newscasts as Kekua have been traced to someone else’s social media accounts. Kekua’s obituary, records of her attendance at Stanford University (where Te’o was reported to have first met her) and a concrete date range as to when she suffered a car accident that received national attention all do not exist.
The question now is whether or not Te’o was behind the hoax in an attempt to gain notoriety, boost his NFL Draft stock with said national attention, and earn Heisman votes, or if he was legitimately duped by a cruel person who drew him into an online relationship, only to trick him, similarly to the MTV television program ‘Catfish.’
As the facts emerge in this case, we will find out which side of the spectrum this situation falls under. But for now, this is a sordid tale at best. As more details emerge, we will keep you posted.