The bizarre case of the nonexistent girlfriend

For Notre Dame, an Inspiration That Wasn't Real
A University of Notre Dame football star received broad public sympathy last fall over the death of a girlfriend who turns out not to have existed.

The sports website Deadspin reported Wednesday that Lennay Kekua, the supposed girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, never existed, even as media outlets ran articles last fall about Mr. Te'o's inspiring on-field performances in the wake of what was said to be her death in September.

Both Mr. Te'o and Notre Dame acknowledged Wednesday that Lennay Kekua, who was said to have been a Stanford University student, was a hoax. Both Mr. Te'o and the school described the player as a victim of that hoax. "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," said Mr. Te'o's statement.

In a news conference Wednesday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Mr. Te'o told the school that he learned of the hoax in the first week of December, when he received a phone call from the number he had associated with Lennay Kekua. The voice he knew to be the woman's told Mr. Te'o that she wasn't dead. "Manti was very unnerved by that, as you may imagine," Mr. Swarbrick said.
Comment: I think I may have been in love with a soriety girl like this back when I was a freshman in college! ABC news calls it being "catfished". Of course we all want to see picture of the beauty. Oh never mind! (Didn't help 'em with Bama!)

Deadspin article that broke the hoax. More from Slate. Leave dating tips for Manti in the comments.

Update: Nine Questions | Timeline

Now here's a question (article):

According to WSBT-TV, Te’o made reference to his dead girlfriend two days after the day he supposedly learned of the hoax. “I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer,” Te’o said on December 8, while talking to reporters in advance of the Heisman Trophy ceremony.


  1. This is good: The Manti Te'o scandal, in 30 posts

    Just 1 of 30: "Please delete the second "m" in Mormon when referring to Manti Te'o "

  2. More on referring to dead girlfriend 2 days after he know about the hoax:

    Two days after learning of hoax, Te’o said girlfriend died of cancer

    According to WSBT-TV, Te’o made reference to his dead girlfriend two days after the day he supposedly learned of the hoax.

    “I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer,” Te’o said on December 8, while talking to reporters in advance of the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

    On Wednesday, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said Te’o learned of the hoax on December 6, while he was attending the ESPN college football awards ceremony in Orlando.

  3. On the bright side, the thought of this guy apparently indulging in homosexual Mormon love notes is simultaneously creepy and hilarious.

  4. A lot of people are wondering if Adam Lanza ever existed either. Many are beginning to think he is a figment of the CIA's imagination.


    He acknowledged that he lied to his father about meeting Kekua in person, then exacerbated the situation after her supposed death when he "tailored" his comments to reporters to make it sound as if their relationship was more than just phone calls and electronic messages.

    "I even knew, that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone - people find out that this girl who died, I was so invested in, I didn't meet her, as well," Te'o said. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away, so that people wouldn't think that I was some crazy dude."

  6. 1/23: The real woman - Woman whose photo was used in Te'o hoax: Tuiasosopo apologized, confessed

    The woman whose photo was used as the "face" of the Twitter account of Manti Te'o's supposed girlfriend says the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.

    Diane O'Meara told NBC's "Today" show Tuesday that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua. Te'o asserts he was tricked into an online romance with Kekua and, until last week, believed she died of leukemia in September.

    O'Meara went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, but she says they're not close. He called to apologize Jan. 16, the day Deadspin.com broke the hoax story, she said.

    "I don't think there's anything he could say to me that would fix this," said O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing executive in Los Angeles.

    O'Meara said she had never had any contact with Te'o, and that for five years, Tuiasosopo "has literally been stalking my Facebook and stealing my photos."

    Tuiasosopo has not spoken publicly since the news broke. His family has said they may speak out this week

  7. 1/23 update: ND's Te'o tells Couric he briefly lied about girlfriend after learning she didn't exist

    Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has told Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend after discovering she didn't exist, while maintaining that he had no part in creating the hoax.

    Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, Te'o said he believed that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died of cancer and didn't lie about it until December.

    "Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," Te'o said in an interview to air Thursday on Couric's syndicated talk show. A segment of the interview with Te'o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

    The Heisman Trophy runner-up said he only learned of the hoax when he received a phone call in December from a woman saying she was Kekua.

    "Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?" Te'o said.

    An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10.

    My take on the whole affair. I think the kid was duped. It was a cruel hoax. I don't think he was "in on it". I hope he can move on.

  8. 1/29: How I became America's most famous fake - Stolen online pictures of me hooked Manti Te'o. I won't let it happen again

    Earlier this month, when the website Deadspin.com broke the story of Manti Te'o's non-existent girlfriend, I heard from several friends, all with some version of the same message: "That girl in the hoax photographs looks exactly like you."

    There was a reason for that. The photographs were of me, though I had no idea until the story broke that they had been used to create a false identity for a woman who never existed, Lennay Kekua.

    Here's how it happened.

    As someone in my mid-20s, I am of the generation that uses social media to connect with friends, family and business associates. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: These are the ways we communicate. And like most of my generation, I didn't give a lot of thought to the word "friend" in the social media sphere. If someone sent me a friend request, more often than not I accepted it. As a result, I found myself with a lot of friends -- including some I barely knew. One of them was a guy with whom I had only a passing acquaintance, but who had gone to my high school.

    I thought I had been careful with the privacy settings on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I kept up with Facebook's privacy policies and took advantage of privacy tools. My private profile was not searchable by anyone who was not a "friend of a friend." I even limited access to photos of me that were posted by other people and tagged on my profile. And I made sure that every post and tag that was on my timeline was there because I allowed it to be there.

    But, as it turned out, that wasn't enough. Even with restrictive settings, my wide circle of "friends" still had access to many pictures of me, and I had no control over what they did with those pictures
    One person abused that access. Many details remain unclear, but it now appears that the casual high school acquaintance whose "friend" request I accepted took my pictures, and they were used to create the fictitious persona of Lennay Kekua. The imaginary woman then became bait to hook a talented college football player, Manti Te'o, who became romantically interested in her. Ultimately, the scammer told Te'o the woman had died of leukemia, leaving the Notre Dame star apparently heartbroken on the eve of a big game.

    All that I've just described occurred without my knowledge, and I still can't quite believe it all happened. But looking back on it now, there are things I wish I'd done differently, even though the precautions I took exceeded those of many Facebook users.

    A lot of the image theft would have been impossible if I'd been more selective about those I designated friends.


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