Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend a Hoax

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Deadspin's takedown called the woman whose pictures were represented as Lennay "Reba," saying she was horrified that her photos -- including some never published on the internet -- were used to represent a person who never existed.

Manti, meanwhile, released a statement in near tandem with his higher-ups, insisting that, for a change, he got played.

This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," Te'o said in the statement. "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. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating... I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.


Notre Dame claims that they hired private investigators to get to the bottom of the hoax, but have released no details from that investigation.

Okay, so Notre Dame is on his side, and Te'o claims he was victimized. But what of articles in the South Bend Tribune that indicate he'd spent time with Lennay in Hawaii, and how does that translate to being swindled by a woman you've never met? How does a college student date someone seriously for three years in a time of 24/7 connectivity, and not have, at least, regular electronic face-to-face correspondence with her? How does that girlfriend survive a car wreck only to suffer from cancer for a long period of time, with no strong involvement from the man who calls her his soulmate? If Te'o lied, why?

Hard to say. But journalism outlets like ESPN and CBSSports have to answer to the fact that they ran what they called direct quotes from a woman named Lennay Kekua without checking on, much less considering the source. And once again, we're reminded that just because it's on Twitter, doesn't mean it's true.

Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites


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