We know what you’re thinking: the story of Manti Te’o and his dead girlfriend who never existed was just so boring. So run-of-the-mill. After all, what Heisman finalist on a team that played for the national championship hasn’t had a girlfriend dying of leukemia and have that girlfriend become a major part of his oft-told “inspiring” backstory, only to have that girlfriend be exposed as an elaborate ruse? Dime a dozen.
But take heart – finally, finally this story has some intrigue to it. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser spoke with “a source close to the Te’o family,” and that source provided to the paper an account of a rather interesting call Te’o received last month:
Manti Te’o has told family and friends that the woman who was the voice of his fictitious girlfriend “Lennay Kekua” called him in December and said she had to fake her own death months earlier to elude drug dealers[.]
Well, if this really happened… Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and friends sure don’t give up easily, do they? And if you’re thinking, “Please, please do not tell me that Te’o is the most pathetically credulous guy on earth and actually fell for this,” good news:
According to the account, Te’o asked the woman to transmit a photo to him with a date stamp, which she did, but this did not allay his suspicions and he later told his family and Notre Dame officials about being scammed.
Makes sense that at this point he wouldn’t believe anything “Kekua” said/did, though we have to wonder why he even requested it in the first place. What we’re also not sure of: why “Kekua” would have placed this call in the first place. Were Tuiasosopo & Co. not in deep enough already? Maybe he felt guilty and was trying to end the scam once and for all by getting caught in an act of self-sabotage? Or maybe he’s just one incredibly persistent schemer.
Either way, the Star-Advertiser noted that the call that led Te’o to alert Notre Dame that he’d been had took place in early December. It stands to reason that this was that call. And we hope it went down like it as reported here, because really, what other way was there for a crazy hoax like this to end but in a blaze of fake-drug-dealer-threat glory? We still don’t know any more about exactly when Te’o started to suspect the whole thing was a con and how much of “Kekua’s” story he embellished, but at least we know the scam was given a proper conclusion. The controversy surrounding it, on the other hand? That’s still just getting started.