Skip to content

Updated: Manti Te’o admits ‘catering’ his stories about Kekua

Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o speaks with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap as his attorney looks on in Florida in this handout photo Reuters

Two days after Deadspin reported that Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend of Notre Dame All-American Manti Te’o who supposedly passed away last September, was a hoax, Te’o broke his silence to ESPN in a two and a half hour off-camera interview.

As one would imagine, Te’o denied playing any sort of role in the hoax. Here are highlights of what ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap has reported so far:

  • Te’o says he never had any part in the hoax and never made anything up to help his Heisman candidacy. 
  • Te’o did, however, say he lied to his father about having met Kekua. Te’o confessed that he “kind of catered [his] stories” about Kekua to suggest that they had met.
  • Te’o claimed “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.” When asked who they were, Te’o replied “I don’t know. According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah’s one.”
  • Te’o says he was never asked for money, but Kekua once requested his checking account number to send him money. Te’o did not give her the number.
  • Apparently confirming a CBSSports report released earlier Friday evening, Te’o said he tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime on several occasions, but that he only saw a “black box” on the other end.
  • Te’o said that he began contact with Kekua on Facebook his freshman year. Things “got serious” on April 28, the day he was told she’d been in a car crash. The relationship is described by Te’o as being intermittent.
  • When asked why he never visited Kekua in the hospital, Te’o replied “It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school.”
  • Te’o claims he and Kekua got in an argument when she called him after his grandmother passed away. “She was saying, ‘You know, I’m trying to be here for you.’ I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was ‘Just know I love you.’ “
  • Te’o told ESPN that, until two days ago, he was not fully convinced Kekua didn’t exist. That’s when Te’o said he received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the hoax and Kekua’s cousin, according to Te’o. (A note: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in Wednesday’s press conference that Te’o was the victim of a hoax and that the university handed the information over to a PI firm that returned a report on Jan. 4.)
  • According to Te’o, a group of people related to Tuiasosopo showed up at Notre Dame’s team hotel for the BCS National championship game.
  • The first time Te’o said he met  Tuiasosopo was after Notre Dame beat USC on Nov. 24. Deadspin reported that Te’o and Tuiasosopo “definitely knew each other” but how was unclear.

There is also an interesting read from the USA Today which was published late Friday night. The paper reports that the cousin of Tuiasosopo faced many parallels in her life similar to Kekua, including a battle with leukemia.

Earlier today, “Outside the Lines” spoke with three people who believed Tuiasosopo was in fact orchestrating a hoax on Te’o, with one person claiming he confessed to the act to her in December. Later in the afternoon, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Kekua (or, a voice speaking as Kekua) told Te’o via telephone on Dec. 6 during the college football awards show that she had faked her death to hide from drug dealers.

Permalink 52 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Independents, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Rumor Mill, Top Posts
52 Responses to “Updated: Manti Te’o admits ‘catering’ his stories about Kekua”
  1. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 12:31 AM

    That’s so funny … Florio posted that Te’o’s denial was the end of the interview. He didn’t say a word about the conversation lasting two hours. He just wanted us all to post what a loser Te’o was for not saying anything substantive. They are such comment hoo-ers over there! And they’re also jerks for censoring half of what we post!

  2. lionpride10 says: Jan 19, 2013 12:40 AM

    / \
    I Moron!

  3. aaroncurryisbust says: Jan 19, 2013 12:44 AM

    Frankly, my intelligence is being insulted. I wholly refuse to believe this BS excuses. Te’o and his gay boyfriend Ronaiah both created this girlfriend sob-story for publicity.

  4. stoutfiles says: Jan 19, 2013 12:45 AM

    Why were none of these “facts” discussed?

    -His father said he met her
    -Manti said he met her
    -He continued to lie about her multiple times after Dec 6th, when he supposedly found out
    -He didn’t go to the hospital when she got in a car wreck, got cancer, and her funeral.
    -He has known her since ’09 but never met her in person? Ever?

  5. strauhal says: Jan 19, 2013 12:49 AM

    Yeah the censoring of what we post is pretty amazing. It really means they can take what’s actually said as a string that’s connected and retie it to something else altogether. Like if all the comments are mixed both supporting and in disbelief of Teo but they delete most of what is supporting him, it looks like most people don’t believe him. I dare them to remove this post. Also I support Teo.

  6. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 12:53 AM

    Okay … Florio has updated his article to include the bit about the interview lasting two and a half hours. But everything I said about PFT was still true 😉

  7. ErinAndrewsStopCallingMe says: Jan 19, 2013 1:07 AM

    What’s ironic is that Te’o is always preaching his Mormon faith to exhaustion, yet still is hypocritical enough to lie to the American public. Reminds me of a chickenhawk ex-Governor that has remained quiet silent since early November.

  8. crazyfootballfun says: Jan 19, 2013 1:13 AM

    Just wondering why it was off camera ( te’o not exactly camera shy) and why the need for an attorney? Also, no matter what, it is clear that Te’o has exaggerated the ” love” he felt for this non existent girl…as several Notre Dame students say he was involved with other young ladies. Also, what kind of a boyfriend NEVER goes to see his dying girlfriend?

  9. nuggets43 says: Jan 19, 2013 1:20 AM

    So Manti passed up being a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and jeopardized his standing in this years draft to create a fake girlfriend, have her die, get sympathy, maybe make a few bucks off fake leukemia donations, and try to win a Heisman. And that’s the believable version of events. Sure.

  10. kiopta1 says: Jan 19, 2013 1:25 AM

    Why are the comment loons from yahoo comment sections invading these comment sections ?

  11. strauhal says: Jan 19, 2013 1:27 AM

    Yahoo comment loons? Who’s that?

  12. barbeaux says: Jan 19, 2013 1:46 AM

    The more Te’o and Notre Dame try to explain a way out of it the more convoluted and false it all sounds. It sounds like each answer is a knee jerk reaction to the most pressing question of the moment yet the answer doesn’t fit in with prior answers. I also believe espn does the same. Espn once reported sports news. Now it tries to be sports news and has too much money directly involved.

  13. strauhal says: Jan 19, 2013 1:57 AM

    Personally, the fact that his grandmothers death was so closely ties to the girlfriend since the beginning has had me convinced of his innocence from the beginning.

  14. mungman69 says: Jan 19, 2013 2:07 AM

    I STILL don’t get it.

  15. Tim's Neighbor says: Jan 19, 2013 2:28 AM

    I would guess the lawyer is there for a few reasons. 1) Always have your lawyer present! 2) There’s probably a strong claim for intention to inflict emotional distress here. 3) Seriously, always have your lawyer present!

  16. frug says: Jan 19, 2013 2:43 AM

    Yeah, this jives with my initial suspicion; Te’o was legitimately hoaxed but chose to exaggerate the extent of the relationship and then when he realized what was going on he was too embarrassed and fearful of the backlash to admit what happened so he chose to live the lie.

  17. huskylawyer says: Jan 19, 2013 3:16 AM

    In the previous Te’o article I posted that if people used common sense, this is what happened. That post was deleted. Then the details came out in this article and surprise, it came out exactly like I described.

    What is up with PFT? They delete well reasoned article that aren’t offensive for any reason? This post will probably last about 5 minutes, if that.

  18. rickrock6661982 says: Jan 19, 2013 3:52 AM

    Anyone that believed a word of what Te’o carefully stated tonight is dumber than he is.

  19. deadeye says: Jan 19, 2013 4:39 AM

    Manti was hoaxed IMO. And in turn, without knowing that this girl was fake, he sought to use her as his beard. He lied to embellish the relationship so people wouldn’t question his orientation. That’s what makes the most sense in this utterly non-sensical story. Lennay was Manti’s cyber-beard.

  20. irishking says: Jan 19, 2013 7:04 AM

    I am sure that Manti Te’o feels like a complete fool for falling for all that stuff and being led on the way he was. Was he taken? I believe “Yes” he was.

    I have personally witnessed certain online relationships which basically were hoaxes. One comes to mind involving a French woman and a young man who met on the internet. They developed a romantic ‘affair’ in cyberspace and then ultimately decided to meet on a quiet beach. Guess what? To the surprise of that young man the gal turned out to be his mother.

  21. 35longmiles says: Jan 19, 2013 7:18 AM

    He’s either very immature, very dumb, or very deceitful. It looks like it’s a combination of all three. Falling in love with someone you’ve never seen is so AOL.

    And I have to wonder, guys, does this kid make your gay-dar detector freak out or what? Does mine. He’s entered the realm of just plain creepy as far as I’m concerned.

  22. nuggets43 says: Jan 19, 2013 7:31 AM

    There’s two possibilities:

    1. Manti got catfished
    2. Manti created a fake girlfriend and killed her off

    Which of these things is more common? There’s a show about number one happening all the time. Number two would be some of the craziest stuff that ever happened in the world of sports. Hmmm

  23. sadskinsfan89 says: Jan 19, 2013 8:32 AM

    Yea but teo’s dad actually said he MET HER. So then who did he meet in person? this kid is just making up more lies. And an off camera interview? wake up sheeple dnt be so blind.

  24. bills4 says: Jan 19, 2013 8:36 AM

    When she was in the hospital, of course I never visited her. She was my fake girlfriend. I would have been going to the hospital to meet nobody. I’m not that stupid!

    And that would be the only explanation as to why any guy who said that his relationship was serious would NOT visit his girlfriend after a deadly car crash.

    Not thinking about it because your in school. Seriously, we are suppose to believe you are that callous!

  25. omniusprime says: Jan 19, 2013 8:39 AM

    Yeah Yeah Teo’s dog ate his homework, forgot to mention that. What a bunch of self serving lies Teo came up with. Of course he was involved in this hoax, probably the mastermind. He tries to blame others for his sheer stupidity and lack of honesty. Now he tries to get the ignorant media hypes to give hum a pardon.

    Teo knew this whole girlfriend story was a hoax for a long time, as did Notre Lame. Just goes to show how dishonest Catholics are, they will lie to cover up their mistakes as a force of habit. No decent woman should ever want to have anything to do with this total loser and liar. No NFL team should ever hire him.

    Teo ought to join Tiny Tim Teblow in joining the Lingerie League, maybe they’ll learn something about girls that way.

  26. cometkazie says: Jan 19, 2013 8:45 AM

    And we think Lewis Carroll had an imagination.

    Is there any real interest in this outside of we football nuts?

  27. be4bama says: Jan 19, 2013 9:14 AM

    Te’o was in on the hoax from the beginning!!! There’s no doubt about it IMO. Hopefully we will get to see an on camera interview.

  28. gorilladunk says: Jan 19, 2013 9:24 AM

    Actually, a brilliant strategy by Te’o in choosing to do the interview (without cameras) on late Friday night. Gets lost in part due to the weekend, the NFL playoffs and Monday is inauguration day and MLK holiday. On one hand he is a fool, on the other, crazy like a fox.

  29. eidolon21 says: Jan 19, 2013 9:34 AM

    this whole process is being managed by ND timing of interviews off camera, all answers carefully rehearsed, choice of reporters etc
    How long before ESPN starts to scroll TE’O INNOCENT VICTIM… ND protect the brand at all costs rapes, deaths, fraud, where does it stop

  30. datdangdrewdundunituhgin says: Jan 19, 2013 9:36 AM

    okay, i have a different, way out theory. it’s pretty conspiratorial but i think this GF was created in order to send money to Te’o from various sources, notre dame itself being one of them. think about it.. a girl who doesn’t even exist sending money to his bank account (which, to be fair he has denied) is the perfect way to cover tracks. this kid is from hawaii, and a mormon – so he decides to go to a catholic school in indiana!?!? doesn’t make sense. and then he conveniently kills her off so as to tie off any loose ends and, hey, get some sympathy in the process. this other dude Tuiasosopo, was basically just making sure she had a bank account and ran her social media to keep things looking legit. because if its his girlfriend sending money, it doesn’t look as bad as if its coming from a booster. and plus they can’t even investigate her since she’s off the grid, so to speak.

    i haven’t thought it out very long but in a case this weird, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn the university was behind it. and nothing in this country ever happens without a reason. and that reason is money 98% of the time.

  31. ensirish says: Jan 19, 2013 9:43 AM

    Gullible; yes. Still a great role model and player. He made some mistakes but I guarantee we all make more mistakes than this kid that got sucked into a sick prank. For those that have followed him, you know what a great person he is. I look forward to following him in the NFL. Go Manti and go Irish!

  32. florida727 says: Jan 19, 2013 11:18 AM

    Face it. We can speculate all we want about what’s true v. what’s not. The one fact in all this is we’ll never know all the details because the people who really know the truth will never tell it. Manti’s version is not the whole truth. Tuiososopo’s version wouldn’t be the whole truth. Notre Dame’s version certainly won’t be the whole truth. Bottom line is that every involved party has something to lose, and as long as that’s the case, the whole truth will never come out. And that is the truth.

  33. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 11:42 AM

    ensirish says: Jan 19, 2013 9:43 AM

    Gullible; yes. Still a great role model and player. He made some mistakes but I guarantee we all make more mistakes than this kid that got sucked into a sick prank. For those that have followed him, you know what a great person he is. I look forward to following him in the NFL. Go Manti and go Irish!

    A great role model? lmao.

    I bet you still support Prince Shembo too, another great Irish role model.

  34. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 11:44 AM

    rickrock6661982 wrote on: Jan 19, 2013 3:52 AM

    Anyone that believed a word of what Te’o carefully stated tonight is dumber than he is.

    You aptly described Notre Dame supporters.

  35. lasseter1113 says: Jan 19, 2013 12:25 PM

    If this was me and I was innocent, I would have gone on CAMERA at least the next day after the story broke and vehemently denied any wrongdoing in this to anybody and everybody that would listen. Don’t you think it’s kind of funny it took him and his “advisers” three days to finally do an interview? Seems like just enough time to make sure that he had the CORRECT, not HONEST answers for every question that ESPN threw at him. Also, how fishy was it that they didn’t want any cameras in the room? It’s always a whole lot easier for me to tell if my kids are lying to me when I am face to face with them rather than on the phone. Last but not least he says he was on the phone with this imaginary girl EVERY night for FOUR straight months. If that’s the case then he should show us the phone records and I would be a whole lot more inclined to believe him. There is just a whole lot about this situation that still doesn’t sit right with me and if you are anybody other that a ND fan I bet there are at least parts of this story that don’t sit right with you either.

  36. kozbee says: Jan 19, 2013 12:27 PM

    Maybe thats why Te`o joined football so he can play with the boys.Who cares a player that gets rolled over by Lacy in the NC game why should he be a role model when he cant even tackle.Loser Mr. T—e`o go

  37. smaxster says: Jan 19, 2013 12:54 PM

    Did Te’o’s parents ever ask their son about their would-be daughter-in-law — a young woman he supposedly knew for three years before she purportedly died of leukemia?

  38. torreth says: Jan 19, 2013 1:02 PM

    There is not one person alive in the entertainment industry that hasnt embellished stories. Lets face it! We all have ways of seeing things through rose colored glasses when it comes to our actions and experiences. The reason why we do it is not in an attempt to mislead anyone, but rather to bring logic to situations that we ourselves question our own reactions. If the person telling the story really wants sympathy he or she will evaluate the person they are speaking to and readjust the facts that may make the other or others feel,see, and ultimately agree that their actions and perceptions are warranted and completely understood. We all crave to be validated. When the truth comes out there is massive embarrassment and quite a lot of humiliation. The Teller has no other choice but to either embellish their embellishment or face the consequences of being proved a liar and a fraud. The most common response is to do the former and then pray people will lose interest. I actually feel sorry for this dude. Its obvious his story kept magnifying in scale because his lies became so extreme. Can you imagine having the whole country know your a liar and laugh and scoff at you.
    Think about your Dad and Mom and Siblings disappointment and their own embarrassment. I look at the guy and see him supposedly choking up over his dead girlfriend. What hes really choking up over is how out of control this has become.

  39. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 1:07 PM

    florida727 says:

    Notre Dame’s version certainly won’t be the whole truth.


    If we want to get into conspiracy theories, here’s a bit of fun trivia.

    About 40 years ago, Notre Dame played its arch rival USC in one of the most famous games in college football history. The Irish were leading 24-0 just before the half, but USC came back and won 55-24. But rather than owning the defeat, after the game Notre Dame came up with some bizarro tale of how their players threw the game to try and embarrass Coach Ara Parseghian–one of the most storied coaches in the school’s history.

    Fast forward …

    Notre Dame, ranked #1 plays Alabama–a team with which the Irish have a grand history–for the title. They are stomped 42-14 and their much ballyhooed Heisman-worthy linebacker is completely embarrassed by Bama’s offense. Rather than owning the defeat, after the game, Notre Dame’s AD goes on television and tearfully explains that his linebacker–who’s been weaving a bizarro series of lies for months is actually … sniff sniff … a victim … and no wonder the poor boy played so poorly that night. If not for these nasty hoaxers just think how that game might have ended.


  40. pricecube says: Jan 19, 2013 1:41 PM

    This guy is a total sociopath. He just seems vacant. There will never be a mea culpa.

    It is amazing that no fact checking was done by the so-called journalists involved in hyping this story. Pathetic.

  41. killitandeatit says: Jan 19, 2013 1:47 PM

    This is all gossip ,no crimes have been committed…probably, although an off the camera interview included a hired attorney.

    Now let us proceed. Te’o has other girl friends ? Who are they and where are they ? Did they put up with all this public boo hoo on camera drama by their “boy friend” Te’o. The real digging should be on campus and talking to students to sift through some of this sordid tale. Some early revelations were already gleaned from boots on the ground at N.D. The University of Notre Dame is in total circle the wagons mode . The main motivation, now, is not to protect Te’o, because this is much bigger then the falsely created icon he became. This has everything to do with protecting another icon,myth,or media hyped ,carefully created institution : NOTRE DAME.

  42. pricecube says: Jan 19, 2013 2:25 PM

    If Manti washes out in the NFL he should run for congress. He would fit right in.

  43. stk8282 says: Jan 19, 2013 3:27 PM

    There are two explanations here:

    a. He decided to makeup a story about a fake gf to gain attention through sympathy

    b. He is incredibly naive which means he’s a complete f—- idiot and should be assigned a competent legal guardian for the rest of his life.

  44. lasseter1113 says: Jan 19, 2013 3:55 PM


    It wouldn’t have mattered what Te’o did that night Alabama was CLEARLY the better team on the field on BOTH sides of the ball. Te’o doesn’t play offense. You’re right though, I have already heard some ND fans saying that the reason they lost was because Te’o wasn’t himself because of all this mess which is just a bunch of bull shhhhhuuut yo mouth. Be a man or woman and admit defeat, don’t give me all that ‘well if this’ or ‘but if that’ would have happened nonsense. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas…

  45. jftkn says: Jan 19, 2013 3:58 PM

    In summary, a pretend interview by pretend journalists of a pretend role model who plays for a pretend football team. Just my take.

  46. drelms says: Jan 19, 2013 4:35 PM

    So, show us your phone records and emails if you want us to ever believe you Te’o. Without these you will always be remembered as a phony.

  47. irishking says: Jan 19, 2013 5:57 PM

    I never thought for a second that Te’o’s dead girlfriend coming back alive had any real bearing on the outcome of the game against Bama. ND was beaten in all phases…plain and simple.

  48. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 6:53 PM

    @irishking …

    I’ll support your bid for Notre Dame Athletic Director. Sounds as though you have more common sense than the current guy :)

  49. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 9:48 PM

    jftkn says: Jan 19, 2013 3:58 PM

    In summary, a pretend interview by pretend journalists of a pretend role model who plays for a pretend football team. Just my take.

    You forgot about the pretend girlfriend and a pretend death by a pretend football player who pretended to be on a pretend national championship caliber football team.

  50. strauhal says: Jan 19, 2013 11:30 PM

    Moral of the story: without integrity eventually we are lost. I am so glad that when I cheated on my wife it was with my fake dead mistress.

  51. 35longmiles says: Jan 20, 2013 8:42 AM

    jftkn says:
    Jan 19, 2013 3:58 PM
    In summary, a pretend interview by pretend journalists of a pretend role model who plays for a pretend football team. Just my take.

    +1 Just outstanding. Schapp just loves to hear himself talk. Go away you silver spoon midget with the larger than life speech inflections. BARF.

  52. 11thstreetmafia says: Jan 20, 2013 7:09 PM

    He said tailoring, not catering. Not a big deal, just sayin’ you might want to get it right if you are going to use a quote as a headline.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!