Update: Notre Dame has made an official statement claiming that “Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died” and “Notre Dame coaches informed Dec. 26 by Manti Te’o & parents Manti had been victim of what appears to be a hoax.”
The full, unabridged statement can be found on the Notre Dame Football Facebook page.
The internet is absolutely exploding this afternoon with the release of a thorough but thought-provoking Deadspin article that suggests a story told to us all by Manti Te’o of his deceased girlfriend Lennay Kekua is indeed a hoax and was never true.
The core of the Deadspin story is that Kekua was an elaborately crafted hoax perpetrated by Ronniah Tuiasosopo, who comes from a long line of football-playing family members and is a friend of Te’os. Tuiasosopo, according to Deadspin, created Kekua as a hoax similar to what some of you may have seen recently in the movie Catfish where a woman in Michigan created an elaborate system of fake Facebook profiles to lure in an unsuspecting New York-based dancer into thinking she was pursuing him.
Tuiasosopo insisted that his creation of Lennay was intended to be a prank, one that spiraled out of control when Te’o jumped into the fray, according to friends of Tuiasosopo. The two used the ploy as a Heisman Trophy campaign vehicle to add to Teo’s story and drum up support for his candidacy.
Of course, everyone is waiting not only for the story to be corroborated, but also for Teo’s response. If indeed he was complicit in a hoax of this magnitude, he’ll have plenty to answer for and his sterling character will undoubtedly come into question.
The potential repercussions of his actions, if true, are staggering.
It’s amazing that this story breaks right on the heels of Lance Armstrong‘s videotaped confession on the Oprah show in which he reportedly admits to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his racing career and during his seven Tour De France wins.
At a minimum, Teo’s draft stock could plummet on the heels of this story. What team would want to have anything to do with an individual who would pull off a hoax of this magnitude in an effort to win a prestigious award? It just screams red flags.
Moreso, the reputation of the University of Notre Dame, where Te’o plays, is in question here–if nothing else, by association. They could indeed suffer for something they could not have fathomed was happening right under their watch.
It’s yet another example of how the most self-righteous often crash the hardest. If someone has that ethereal glow around them at all times, you have to assume there are skeletons in the closet.
We don’t know anyone.