Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend was in fact fake, this much we know for certain. Both Notre Dame and Te’o himself have confirmed that there is no Lennay Kekua, and that she never died of leukemia.
“On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia,” the school said in a statement.
Te’o offered something along the same lines: “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. 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.”
What is left to figure out now is whether or not Te’o was actually the victim of a hoax, or a guy who found an emotional weapon he could utilize en route to national fame.
In his statement, the Notre Dame linebacker put a particular emphasis on the fact that he met Kekua online. That is sort of bizarre given the fact that, in a story published by the South Bend Tribune last October, someone painted a very different picture regarding how the pair met. The author, Eric Hansen, wrote this: “Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago."
That doesn’t sound like a couple that met online. Later in the same story, Hansen obtained this quote from Manti Te’o’s father:
"They started out as just friends," Brian Te'o said. "Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.
That also doesn’t sound like a couple whose relationship was confined to the internet.
Now, it’s true that Manti Te’o himself was never actually quoted saying any of that stuff, but presumably he can read. You would think that after that story come out, a story his family contributed to, if something about it were wrong, he could set the record straight.
Maybe Te’o was the victim of a hoax like he says he was, but based on everything we know right now, it sure doesn’t seem like that’s the case.