American Football: Solved - the case of the girlfriend who never was
Sunday 20 January 2013
As mysteries go, the one involving the Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his "dead" girlfriend takes some beating. Yesterday, like the next chapter in a detective novel, it unveiled another twist which will only serve to ratchet up the interest in this bizarre story.
It began as a tale of bravery in the face of grief, as media outlets broke the tear-jerking news that Te'o had shrugged off the heartbreak of losing his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, to leukaemia just hours after the death of his grandmother to play the game of his life and lead his college team Notre Dame to a crucial 20-3 win over Michigan State last autumn.
But the tears of sympathy and admiration had hardly dried when Deadspin.com reported that not only did his girlfriend not die but, in fact, she had never existed.
The death of the grandmother was true, but there were no records of the girlfriend's birth or death, or her supposed attendance at Stanford University. As the 21-year-old's story unravelled, an alternative theory grew, that Te'o had concocted a hoax to enhance his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy for the outstanding player in college football.
Te'o denied this, yet he did finally admit that he had never met the girlfriend, but that he believed he was in a relationship with a woman he had met online, regularly Skyping her though never seen her face because the picture was always blocked. "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," said Te'o.
So what was going on? Yesterday, in an off-camera interview with ESPN, Te'o said Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old acquaintance from California he had first met in November, had contacted him to confess to setting him up – and presumably providing someone to speak to Te'o on the phone in the guise of Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend. Te'o claimed Tuiasosopo had originally said Kekua was his cousin. Te'o also said he lied to his father about how he met the woman. To cover that up, he apparently lied to everyone else, admitting: "I even knew it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet."
But is this the truth? Watch out for the next exciting episode.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on today but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Morgan Schneiderlin to Arsenal: Transfer news live - Sergio Ramos to Manchester United; Raheem Sterling to Manchester City
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Nick Kyrgios praises fans smearing Vegemite and Nutella on their faces in support of Wimbledon star
Alexis Sanchez 'will miss start of Arsenal season' after Chile go all the way in Copa America
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...