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Media MonsterNCAA FootballWeird But True

Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend Never Existed, According To Deadspin

Welp, there goes the internet.

A little over an hour ago, Deadspin’s Tim Burke and Jack Dickey published what could be the biggest sports story since the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Manti Te’o — near-Heisman winner and probable first round pick in April’s NFL Draft — is either involved in, or is the victim of, an elaborate hoax. According to Deadpsin, his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who supposedly died on the same day as Te’o's grandmother, and whose death served as one of the more compelling and inspirational subplots of this college football season, never actually existed.

Yep. Burke and Dickey were exhaustive in their fact-checking, and the piece itself is a long one, but when you have a moment, look at it. Because it’s going to be talked about for a while.

Earlier in the hour, Burke went on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio to discuss the story, and noted that there’s no direct evidence as to whether Te’o knew about the hoax. According to Deadspin’s report — which, again, is comprehensive — it’s pretty obvious that Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed. The next question is: how much did Manti Te’o know? Does this fall on the sad/naive end of the spectrum, where a star linebacker never actually met an online girlfriend, but purported to — and made up details about meeting her — in order to keep up appearances? Or does this fall somewhere darker? Did Manti Te’o, from the very beginning, know that a dead girlfriend subplot (jeez) would help his media push for a Heisman?

Shortly after the story was published, Notre Dame issued a statement in response (here’s the transcript, via Joe Schad):

Whoa. Just whoa.

UPDATE: Manti Te’o has released a statement, which is hopefully more real than Lennay Kekua. Here it is:

“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. 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.

“It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

“I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.

“Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.”

To be continued.


  • dmill


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629728350 Erickson Witt

    victim my ass

  • Anonymous

    And of course the good Catholic, morally-superior institution runs cover for its most blessed institution, its football program (just don’t mention the unidentified rapists, subsequent suicide, or scissor lifts on a windy day.) What a creepy football team.

  • Anonymous

    Incredibly, there actually is a Catfish connection. The story is outrageous.

  • Lennay Kekua

    He had to have known

  • corri anderson

    That is horrible taste right there in your id. Kinda funny sadly.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it horrible taste? She never existed.

  • Brian McKeever

    I’m sorry, but someone you have never met in person is NOT your girlfriend/boyfriend. The press reports at the time would have led anyone reading them to assume that he and Kekua were intimately involved, not just cyber chat buddies.

  • getthesenets

    lance armstrong’s people leaked the story…to get heat off of him

  • http://www.crossworksme.com/ GiantM

    Well I firmly believe that the truth in this matter about Manti’s integrity will surface eventually. If he is lying about this at any level we’ll know about it soon enough. I would think we all understand that a person of integrity and humility [which Manti appears to fit mold] can and could easily fall into this trap simply because he seems to be an individual who cares!

    So I give him the benefit of the doubt, simply because outside of this scandal he has captured the heart of many on the team and in the school. That in of itself tells me that he does possess a high level of character and integrity. Time will tell…won’t it?


    I really have a hard time with the idea that this was a ploy to gain publicity for Manti. He was already a star that attended Notre Dame . Did he really need any more attention ?


    It seems funny the story just happens to break during a very hot time for recruiting. You should also take into consideration the kids background . I think he is on the naive side obviously. I think he has had a bit of a sheltered life . Keep in mind too the kid who is said to be one person involved in the hoax . His father played at USC one of Notre Dames biggest rivals . I think there are many facts yet to come.

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