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She’s a Hoax, You Know She’s a Hoax

Multiple award-winning Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner up Manti Te’o has got some ‘splainin’ to do vis a vis his dead “girlfriend”. has the story — and kudos to Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey for doing the reporting. Sure it was like pulling the loose thread on a very loose sweater, but no one in the big time sports media ever followed up on it. Story here:

Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, the stories said, played this season under a terrible burden. A Mormon linebacker who led his Catholic school’s football program back to glory, Te’o was whipsawed between personal tragedies along the way. In the span of six hours in September, as Sports Illustrated told it, Te’o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.

Kekua, 22 years old, had been in a serious car accident in California, and then had been diagnosed with leukemia. SI’s Pete Thamel described how Te’o would phone her in her hospital room and stay on the line with her as he slept through the night. “Her relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice,” Thamel wrote.

Upon receiving the news of the two deaths, Te’o went out and led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State, racking up 12 tackles. It was heartbreaking and inspirational. Te’o would appear on ESPN’s College GameDay to talk about the letters Kekua had written him during her illness. He would send a heartfelt letter to the parents of a sick child, discussing his experience with disease and grief. The South Bend Tribune wrote an article describing the young couple’s fairytale meeting—she, a Stanford student; he, a Notre Dame star—after a football game outside Palo Alto.

Did you enjoy the uplifiting (sic) story, the tale of a man who responded to adversity by becoming one of the top players of the game? If so, stop reading.

Manti Te’o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.

Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there’s no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.

The photographs identified as Kekua—in online tributes and on TV news reports—are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua. She is not a Stanford graduate; she has not been in a severe car accident; and she does not have leukemia. And she has never met Manti Te’o.

A lot more at the link. I found it fascinating, but then I’m twisted like that. My guess? Te’o has been running this scam for a few years with his friend and decided to use it to boost his image. I find it very hard to swallow that he was duped or hoaxed here — especially when he’s so close to to the alleged perpetrator of said hoax.

23 comments to She’s a Hoax, You Know She’s a Hoax

  • -fritz-

    Are his pants on fire?

  • Scott M.

    Get out your violins

  • kishke

    How can he possibly have been hoaxed about the existence of his own girlfriend?!

  • Daniel Crandall

    Like I noted when I saw the story posted at Facebook (thanks Kenn) this story pissed me off. As someone who spent months watching the woman I loved and whom I was going to spend the rest of my day be slowly worn down and taken Home to the Lord after seven months, this football scumbag gets nothing but my vitriol. He’s a classless, pathetic jerk who will do anything to bolster his classless, pathetic image. I don’t know what can be done to punish this butthead for doing what he did, but if I had any input, I’d be coming down on him like a ton of bricks.

    But more than likely this will fall down the memory hole, some pathetic NFL organization will draft the scumbag, and for a short time he’ll roll in millions of dollars. If there was any justice the closest this piece of filth would get to an NFL field would be wandering the stands selling those stupid foam fingers during games for the worst team in the league.

  • Texacalirose

    Uh, I guess I’m a bit skeptical, too. Let me think this through. Notre Dame football player claims he had a girlfriend for years whom he never met in the flesh. What a guy. What a celibate. What a liar.

  • Rufus

    I agree that there is something very odd going on here, but I would suggest folks wait until more facts are in to judge Te’o’s knowledge and/or involvement. Someone I know very well lives with someone who knows Te’o well. Te’o had that person convinced that he (Te’o) truly believed the girl was who she said she was, and it’s possible that is the truth.

    I agree deadspin deserves credit for digging and finding what appear to be huge holes in this saga when much larger media outlets fell, hook, line and sinker. Was Te’o also a victim, or was he in on the hoax? He’s claiming the former. He’s led an exemplary life so far.

    I read the deadspin article, and a few other accounts. There is an attempt to paint Te’o with a motive of seeking sympathy in the Heisman run-up. Stranger things have happened, but that seems like a stretch, especially since his on-line “relationship” with this “woman” long predates any Heisman talk.

    The whole thing is odd. Without a doubt it’s example #397 why the mainstream media is worse than a bunch of bloggers in their pajamas. Deadspin prevailed where Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FoxSports and a host of others failed. There is also no doubt that at least one person (possibly the Ronaiah Tuiasosopo mentioned in the deadspin report) is guilty of a vile hoax. Are there others involved? Personally I’m going to wait until more facts are known before I indict Te’o.

    • >>I would suggest folks wait until more facts are in to judge>>

      No offense, Rufus, just quoting Ice-T: “Gimme a break, what world do you live in?” Sadly, Daniel likely nailed how this story will play out over the next few weeks/months.

  • I now think it’s possible he is gay and hiding that from his family and friends. It appears he even lied to his parents and huge family.

    • Rufus

      I hesitate to tread this ground, because I really, really don’t want to falsely accuse anyone of anything, but when I first read the deadspin report I had the same thought. With the facts depicted in that article I thought, “Here’s a guy who doesn’t like girls who worked up a story of a virtual beard with a friend (possibly more than a friend) in order to avoid questions about his lack of physical contact with women.”

      I hope that’s wrong too.

  • Scott M.

    Built up that asshole Lance Armstrong too…”the fault,dear Brutus,lies not in our stars,but in ourselves.”

    • Rufus

      I confess to wanting to believe Armstrong was real. When I started following him, in the Olympics, he seemed like an arrogant jerk. Then he started winning all those Tour de Frances as a cancer survivor and I felt like the jerk. Then there were allegations of doping, but he denied them so vehemently I thought that maybe, just maybe one man could be that good. Then Floyd Landis was caught and I became convinced Armstrong was cheating too.

      It sounds like Armstrong is not only a cheater. He’s a bully too.

    • Rufus

      Boy! Armstrong, Te’o… It was a lot easier when I was a kid with real heroes like Dr. J., Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, Neal Armstrong and Richard Nixon to look up to.

  • Best o’ Ziegler’s recent Facebook entries:

    “It appears that ESPN knew of Te’o story through entire BCS title build up/coverage & never mentioned it. Did they think he went to Syracuse?”

    “Breaking… Notre Dame’s “Rudy” is appalled that his feel good story is now the 2nd most fraudulent in ND f-ball history. L Holtz falls to 3″

    “Congrats to Deadspin for their skepticism of Te’o’s feel good story. Now, let’s see same treatment of absurd Penn State cover up narrative.”

    “Most amazing thing about Manti T’eo hoax? Notre Dame scandal that DIDN’T involve a real death will get WAY more press than the 2 that did!”

    “So media was DEAD wrong about narratives they fell in love with re: Armstrong & Manti Te’o. When will they realize they did same w/ Paterno?”

  • Tink in Cali

    At Bleacher Report today, there were three different stories on their main page about this. So, there might be some legs on this story, at least in the sporting news world.

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