Manti Te’o: A linebacker, a made-up girlfriend and a national hoax


Story highlights

Manti Te'o is a hoax victim, Notre Dame says, but questions continue to pop up

A sportswriter thinks Te'o may have embellished his relationship

An NFL football player says he has met a woman he thought was Kekua

In a little more than three months, Manti Te’o probably will be drafted by an NFL team and sign a multimillion dollar deal.

Before teams sink that much money into players, they have questions.

With the revelation that the football feel-good story of the year centered on the Notre Dame linebacker’s love for a woman who never existed, many people have questions for Te’o – a lot of questions.

And as each question in the saga gets answered – none publicly by Te’o — it seems another one, or two, or three, crop up.

For instance, why did Te’o tell reporters before the Heisman Trophy presentation on December 8 that he “lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer,” when two days earlier the woman he thought was dead called him on his cellphone?

Why did he tell a Sports Illustrated reporter in October that Kekua came to one of his games then issue a statement this week that he never met her?

Who is now behind the one of the Twitter accounts associated with Lennay Kekua, a woman who apparently never lived, let alone died, in September before Te’o, who called her his girlfriend, played one of the biggest games of the young season?

The Te’o hoax in 30 posts

A tweet Thursday purportedly from the fictional girlfriend promised she would have a big announcement that would help sort out details of the story, but the tweet was merely a joke about Te’o.

Two other tweets on the page were retweets from the verified account of Te’o.

“@LennayKay I miss you!” a November 6 tweet from Te’o said.

On September 12, Te’o tweeted “@LennayKay you will always be with me wherever I go!”

It was unclear Thursday whether the person Te’o tweeted to in September used it again after reports broke of a hoax or whether someone created a new account with the same user name.

The airing of the bizarre story began Wednesday, when sports website Deadspin published a piece dismissing as a hoax the existence of Te’o’s girlfriend – the one who he said died around the same time as his grandmother while his team marched toward the BCS National Championship Game.

Then Wednesday, the university held a news conference saying Te’o was the victim of a “elaborate hoax.” And Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, released a statement saying he was embarrassed that he was the victim of a “sick joke.”

The bizarre developments left many wondering if they, instead of Te’o, were led on.

“Te’o’s story that he is completely innocent in this does not really ring true to us,” Timothy Burke, co-author of the Deadspin article, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night.

Pete Thamel, the Sports Illustrated writer who published a transcript of his interview with Te’o, said he thinks the star linebacker was duped.