The Man Behind The Manti Te’o Hoax

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013


A man who pretended to be the online girlfriend of the US college footballer Manti Te’o for more than a year, is said to have fallen “deeply, romantically in love” with the star.

In an interview with the Dr Phil show, hoaxer Ronaiah Tuiasosopo said he was “confused” about his sexuality following the two-year relationship with Te’o. He had convinced the Notre Dame linebacker that he was Lennay Kekua, whom he characterised as a 20-something woman who narrowly survived a car crash only to later die of leukemia.

Te’o has denied knowing about the hoax, telling Katie Couric last week that he believed Kekua was real. Te’o never met his “girlfriend” during the course of their two-year courtship, even though he was told she had been “seriously injured” in the car crash. Neither did he attend her “funeral” after her apparent death, although he talked extensively about both events in media interviews.

The full interview with Tuiasosopo will air Thursday on the Dr Phil show. In released extracts, Tuiasosopo said he had wanted to end the relationship with Te’o earlier than he did. Tuiasosopo ultimately ended the hoax by killing off Kekua in early September.

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