January 18, 2013

Football Star Hoax

A Notre Dame football star was apparently duped with a fake online girlfriend.

Scott: Their love story captivated college football fans across the country. An all-star player with his sights on the Heisman trophy. A beautiful college grad dying of cancer.

But all was not as it seemed.

Jack Swarbrick: This was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax. Manti was the victim of that hoax. Manti is the victim of that hoax.

Scott: Notre Dame says its star linebacker Manti Te’o became involved with an online girlfriend who never really existed. It was a cruel twist in what many believed was a heartbreaking story.

This past fall, Te’o spoke lovingly about his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who he said contracted leukemia after a car accident. He said they only communicated over the web or by phone.

When Manti’s grandmother died last fall, word spread that his girlfriend had died just hours later.

Manti Te’o: The last thing she said to me is I love you.

Scott: The Hawaiian football star says before his girlfriend died, she told him not to go to her funeral.

Te’o would go on to lead Notre Dame to an undefeated season and the national championship game.

Manti: I’m receiving this peace, this sort of strength from people who I don’t even know. They don’t even know me.

Scott: This week, the sports blog Deadspin reported Te’o's entire relationship was a hoax because the girlfriend never existed.

Jack Dickey: Twenty-two-year-old Stanford grad gets in a near-fatal car accident, contracts leukemia and then dies. That’s a big tragedy. That’s going to be written up somewhere. It wasn’t. There was no death notice, no obituary, no announcement of her funeral.

Scott: Deadspin says a friend of Te’o is behind the deception, and the website says it is still unclear whether Te’o was also involved. Te’o did issue a statement saying he is humiliated and insists he was duped. Yet people are asking why the NFL hopeful never corrected media reports that said he spent time with Kekua in Hawaii.

School officials say Te’o learned about the hoax in December, just before Notre Dame lost the national championship game in Alabama. The player apparently received a call from his deceased girlfriend’s phone number.

Spokesperson: It was a person who’s voice sounded like the same voice he had talked to who told him that she was, in fact, not dead.

Scott: Notre Dame says it supports its star player and chose not to contact the police, leaving that up to Te’o. But the university says it is hiring a private investigator to find out who is behind the conspiracy.

Julian, back to you.


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