Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame linebacker whose online girlfriend appears to have never existed, suffered the fate of many cyber daters, says the host of the MTV reality show "Catfish."
Nev Schulman starred in the 2010 documentary "Catfish," in which he went in search of a woman with whom he became infatuated online. Now, he hosts an MTV reality show of the same name, connecting people with their digital darlings.
"It doesn't really change anything for me that this victim is a high-profile football player. I think it can and obviously does happen to anyone," Schulman said on MTV. "People, strangely, are more comfortable sharing information about themselves sometimes with strangers online, simply because it's someone who is outside of their normal circle of friends, much in the same way you share things with a therapist. People get very close with these online friends."
Te'o captured national headlines after he led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State hours after learning that his grandmother — and apparently his girlfriend — had died.
But on Wednesday, the sports site Deadspin reported that the girlfriend, Lennay Marie Kekua, never existed. It said a photo of her that was splashed across TV screens and websites was actually of a 22-year-old California woman.
Te'o said on Wednesday that he was embarrassed and humiliated. The University of Notre Dame said it was investigating.
"I very much got sucked into a relationship — it wasn't my intention, but it happened to me — and it happens slowly over time," Schulman said. "And, of course, when you read an article all at once where it reveals all these stories and all these details, it seems crazy, but in the process of it, as it happens very slowly, things don't seem so crazy. And then, of course, when you look at it all in one snapshot, it does sort of seem kind of unbelievable."
A Twitter account claiming to belong to Kekua said to expect a statement Thursday sometime between 11 a.m. and noon PT.