Manti Te’o sat down with Jeremy Schapp of ESPN Friday night to clear up the details surrounding Deadspin’s report that the story of his dead girlfriend Lennay Kekua was a hoax. Instead the interview left us with many more questions.
For starters, Te’o says that even after the Deadspin story was released, he says he “didn’t know for sure” that Lennay Kekua was fake until Wednesday when he supposedly got a call from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitting the hoax. Which completely contradicts Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick’s assertion that Te’o came to the university officials about the hoax on December 26, 2012.
Then, there’s the way Tuiasosopo supposedly admitted the hoax to Te’o. Schapp was told that it was through a direct message on Twitter, a message Schapp claims to have seen. But Deadspin points out that Tuiasosopo deleted his account “weeks ago” and Te’o was never following Tuiasosopo so a direct message wasn’t possible.
Also according to Deadspin, ESPN “updated” a portion of their story that involved Te’o saying that Lennay Kekua showed up to Notre Dame’s team hotel in Miami during their preparations for the BCS Title game. And that he knew they were there because “the group took photos in the hotel lobby.” After the “update” that portion of the interview reads like this:
A group of people connected to Tuiasosopo showed up at the team hotel, after curfew, for the Discover BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Te’o said he knew they were at the hotel because the group took photos in the hotel lobby. Someone in the group called Te’o, saying they were waiting for Kekua to join them in the lobby and asking if she was with him. Te’o then hung up. Te’o said it affected his play in the game, where Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14.
And finally, there’s the question of why Te’o never visited his girlfriend while she was in the hospital to which Te’o responds, “It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school.”
Te’o does admit lying to his family about meeting Kekua and “tailoring” his stories about the relationship so it appeared that the two had met, but when asked if he was in on the hoax he says, “No. Never. I wasn’t faking it. I wasn’t part of this.”