This story just keeps getting more and more awkward by the day.
The girlfriend who allegedly “catfished” Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o into believing that she passed away from cancer, later told him that she had to fake her death to get away from drug dealers.
While the female who pretended to be Lennay Kekua—a fictitious figure that Te’o fell in love with after meeting online— has not been identified, she continued correspondence with the football star after she was said to be dead.
Kekua was reported to have died in September, on the same day as Te’o’s grandmother. After their talk in December, Te’o told the woman to provide him with a photo with a date stamp, which she did.
From the Honolulu Star-Adviser:
The account does not give the date of the call but on Wednesday Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told a campus press conference that the woman contacted Te’o on Dec. 6 while he was in Florida for an ESPN post-season awards show. “He received a phone call from a number that he recognized as having been associated with Lennay Kekua,” Swarbrick said. “When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same person that he had talked to, who told him she was, in fact, not dead.”
On Dec. 26, Te’o notified school officials, according to a statement from Te‘o Wednesday.
Subsequently Notre Dame commissioned an investigation that concluded Te’o had been the victim of a hoax, the school said.
In his statement, Te‘o said he was embarrassed to acknowledge that he was the victim “of what apparently was someone’s sick joke and constant lies,” a hoax in which he had a long-distance online and phone relationship with a fictitious woman, whom he knew as Lennay Kekua.
However, Te’o has yet to address questions about statements he made to the press about her death from cancer after Dec. 6.
Te’o told school officials that he was the victim of a hoax in December but never went public until Deadspin broke the story earlier this week.
The devout Mormon attests that he was not in on the trick, but this new development, and the fact that he kept up the lie even after learning the truth, has brought his credibility into question.
Since the story broke, the Internet has been ablaze with the new phenomenon known as #Teoing, in which a person posts a photo next to a non-existent significant other.