Update: 1/18: The woman whose photo has been used has been found and she is not talking for now. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man identified as being behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, told a friend in early December that he duped Manti Te’o. Others have come forward and said the same hoax was pulled on them. [ESPN]
“Inside Edition” identified the woman in the photo as Diane O’Meara, a former classmate of Tuiasosopo’s. She has been quoted as saying she told him to come clean.
Manti Te’o kept the story going, even after he definitively knew it was a hoax. Check it out here.
Original Story: 1/17: Notre Dame admitted on Wednesday that a story about star Manti Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, death from leukemia was a hoax. In fact, there was no girlfriend. This “loss” inspired Te’o throughout the season and helped him lead the Irish to the BCS title game by his own words.
Manti Te’o said he found out about his girlfriend’s death on the same day his grandmother died. He used it to gin up enthusiasm among teammates prior to the big game.
Manti Te’o gave two interviews continuing the story even after he knew it was a hoax according to Special Report this evening.
In the following interview, Manti Te’o talks about having lost the love of his life:
He thanked people for all the love and support shown to him during this tragedy:
“My family and my girlfriend’s family have received so much love and support from the Notre Dame family,” he said after that game. “Michigan State fans showed some love. And it goes to show that people understand that football is just a game, and it’s a game that we play, and we have fun doing it. But at the end of the day, what matters is the people who are around you, and family. I appreciate all the love and support that everybody’s given my family and my girlfriend’s family.”
Te’o now says he never met her, she was an online girlfriend, and he was a victim of a cruel joke:
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her,” he said in statement.
“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.”
The Notre Dame athletic director said “Manti was the victim of that hoax. He has to carry that with him for a while. In many ways, Manti was the perfect mark because he’s the guy who was so willing to believe in others,” Swarbrick said. “The pain was real. The grieving was real. The affection was real.”
Deadspin broke the story about Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend:
Deadspin said an acquaintance of Manti Teo’s, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, is behind the Internet hoax. [aol sporting]
Ronaiah’s father Titus seemed to confirm the relationship between Manti Te’o and Ronaiah. Ronaiah’s father Titus called Manti “an amazing role model” on his Facebook page.
Manti Te’o, star of Notre Dame, went to the Internet to find a girlfriend? She was the love of his life but he never met her? He didn’t go to the funeral since there wasn’t one. In fact, she was supposedly in a car accident prior to her fake death and he never visited her.
The story about Brent Mussburger calling Quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, Miss Alabama, beautiful one-too-many times seems even more trivial now.
How many concussions has Manti Te’o had? We might be able to blame this on the game of football.