In what appears to be a massive hoax played out over the course of many months, the inspirational, heartbreaking story of Notre Dame linebacker Monti Te’o‘s girlfriend has been revealed to be a hoax. Earlier on Wednesday, Deadspin posted a story detailing not only all the inconsistencies with the ongoing story in the press over the past months, but brought to light new details about the origin of the hoax.
For those not familiar with the account, the story goes like this: Te’o, a Mormon, and Lennay Kekua, supposedly 22, met at Stanford following a 2009 victory over the Irish. The two remained friends throughout 2010 and 2011 before becoming a couple some time in 2012. Later in the year, Kekua was said to have been involved in a serious car accident from which she recovered, but was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia. In mid-September, Kekua and Te’o's grandmother were said to have died within hours of each other (the account of just how long varies between news sources).
All of this information was compliantly printed without fact-checking by news outlets like ESPN, The New York Post, Sports Illustrated, CBS and the South Bend Tribune.
Deadspin reporting found that no person named Lennay Kekua had recently died or had been involved in a car accident over the past year. No obituary was found to have been printed.
But, on top of all this, Deadspin seems to have found the origin of the hoax: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of Te’o who has football players in his family and is known to have perpetrated similar hoaxes on friends before. Moreover, Tuiasosopo was even in a car accident about one month before Kekua was said to have gotten in hers.
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
Now, the problem is that the university’s statement doesn’t address the fact that some details about Kekua and her relationship with Te’o which now have been proved false originated with Te’o himself. It’s clear that, although he may have been duped, Te’o also lied about the situation.
Photo via Twitter/@MantiTeO