Manti Te’o broke his silence on the Lennay Kekua hoax story Friday night in an off-camera interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. The interview, over two hours long, still provoked many questions about the hoax and Te’o is no better off today in terms of clarifying his own story than he was before the interview.
Maybe Round 2 will work.
The New York Times reports that Te’o will sit down on camera with Katie Couric during her show “Katie” on Thursday to answer questions about the hoax. He’ll be joined by his parents, Brian and Ottilia.
The Times adds that Oprah Winfrey, who recently interviewed Lance Armstrong, also requested to interview Te’o. If anyone’s wondering why Couric was able to grab Te’o on camera, the fact both are represented by CAA might have something to do with it.
Last night in an off-camera interview, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o spoke to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap about the Lennay Kekua hoax. The interview went over two hours and details of Te’o’s story began coming out around midnight.
Te’o denied having any role in the hoax — Kekua, Te’o’s girlfriend, supposedly passed away last September only to suddenly and surprisingly re-emerge in Te’o’s life on Dec. 6 through a phone call — but did admit he tailored the story of his relationship with Kekua to suggest that they had met in person when in fact they had not.
The interview left plenty of questions unanswered and definitely raised quite a few more. The few facts that this bizarre story does have are still convoluted.
ESPN posted an edited transcript of the conversation. You can view it HERE. It is far, far too long to even begin to try to break down. As with everything else in this story, we encourage you to read it and decide for yourself.
As a reference, here’s the original Deadspin story.
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.