THERE WAS NO “DEAD GIRLFRIEND”
We’ve always believed Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was overrated … a contention validated during the Irish’s epic-egg-laying in the 2013 national championship game against Alabama.
But is Te’o also a liar?
The website Deadspin claims T’eo’s inspirational story about overcoming the adversity of losing both his grandmother Annette Santiago and his girlfriend Lennay Kekua during the 2012 season is nothing but an elaborate hoax. Or at least the “dead girlfriend” part of it was …
From the website’s seismic report:
Manti Te’o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.
Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there’s no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.
The photographs identified as Kekua—in online tributes and on TV news reports—are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua. She is not a Stanford graduate; she has not been in a severe car accident; and she does not have leukemia. And she has never met Manti Te’o.
The Deadspin reported goes on to lay out an extensive timeline of Te’o's “relationship” with the nonexistent woman – strongly suggesting that the story was concocted in an effort to generate publicity for the star linebacker (who finished second in the 2012 Heisman Trophy vote).
According to officials at Notre Dame, Te’o is the victim – not the perpetrator – of the hoax.
“On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia,” the University stated.
Te’o issued a statement shortly thereafter.
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online,” he said. “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. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
Despite his poor performance in the 2013 national championship game, Te’o remains a likely top ten pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Obviously how this matter is resolved will go a long way in determining his future. If Te’o really was the victim of a hoax, as he claims, then it’s likely he will pick up public support. If it turns out he was in the publicity stunt, he stands to lose millions of dollars in endorsement money.
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