Heading into Wednesday evening, the general public’s theories pertaining to Manti Te’o and his fake dead girlfriend all centered around one indisputable fact: there was and is no Lennay Kekua.
Maybe Te’o knew she wasn’t real; maybe he was legitimately duped by someone with a fake identity on the internet. Either way, though, Kekua being a fictional character was an essential piece of this crazy, mildly unbelievable puzzle.
Then Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia came along and messed everything up.
In an interview with ESPN conducted shortly after Deadspin published its story, Mauia insisted that Lennay Kekua was actually a real person who he had met.
"This was before her and Manti," Mauia said Wednesday evening.
"I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was -- I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa."
What was she like? Well…
"She was tall," he said. "Volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model ... "
So there you go.
Is this definitive proof that Te’o wasn’t the victim of a hoax like he claimed he was yesterday? Does it mean that Mauia was scammed by someone, too? Does it mean anything at all? Who knows at this point.
When a reporter pointed out that Kekua may not be a real person, Mauia replied: "No, she is real."
Make of that what you will.