ESPN reported that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man identified as being behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, has pulled a similar hoax before, according to a source. Last night Manti spoke with ESPN for a two and a half hour interview.
Manti Teo finally answered questions about the dead girlfriend hoax last night on ESPN. The Notre Dame linebacker said the mastermind behind the hoax had apologized to him.
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o finally answered questions Friday night about the Lennay Kekua girlfriend hoax, saying in an exclusive interview with ESPN that he wasn’t part of it – although he “tailored” his accounts of meeting the woman – and that the alleged mastermind of the hoax apologized to him.
The Fighting Irish linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist at the center of a fake girlfriend controversy that has captivated the sports world for three days spoke to the network’s Jeremy Schaap. Te’o gave the interview with a lawyer seated next to him in a conference room at the IMG Training Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he is preparing for the NFL draft. There were no TV cameras at the 2½-hour interview, which was recorded.
Although Te’o came to Notre Dame officials about the hoax in late December, he said a group of people connected to the perpetrators of the hoax showed up at the team hotel in the days leading up to the BCS Championship game in Miami. Te’o told Schaap the incident affected his play in the game, which the Irish lost 42-14.
Before that encounter, Te’o said he got a call from someone claiming to be Kekua on Dec. 6, even though that was more than two months after her supposed death.
“I just got mad,” Te’o said. “I went on a rampage … the Lennay I knew died on September 12.”
Te’o denied using the hoax to bolster his Heisman candidacy.
“Well, when they hear the facts, they’ll know,” Te’o told ESPN. “They’ll know that there is no way that I could be part of this.”
Te’o said the relationship with the fake girlfriend began on Facebook. He admitted to lying to his father about having met Kekua, prompting his father to tell reporters that the two had met. Several media stories indicated that he and Kekua had met. Te’o insisted they never did.