Manti Te'o said he knew learned that his online girlfriend was a hoax in December, but lied about it
Manti Te'o will admit to Katie Couric that he briefly lied to the press and public after discovering his online girlfriend was a hoax. His confession is scheduled to air Thursday on an episode of "Katie."
The Notre Dame linebacker has been dogged by reporters since Deadspin revealed last week that his dead girlfriend — a critical part of the mythology that surrounded him in his most recent season — a woman he called Lennay Marie Kekua, had never existed. Referencing a recent documentary about online deception, Te'o told Couric he learned he had been duped in a "Catfish" scheme in December, but said nothing.
"You stuck to the script," Couric said in the taped interview on her ABC News show, "Katie." "And you knew that something was amiss, Manti."
"Katie, put yourself in my situation," the football player said. "I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, whom I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12."
The interview comes after Diane O'Meara, a 23-year-old California woman whose face was broadcast across national television as Kekua, told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday that she had never met Te'o and that the image was used without her knowledge or consent.
She said she went to high school with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged perpetrator of the hoax, but was not close friends with him. She claimed Tuiasosopo called to apologize to her after the story broke.
"I've never met Manti Te'o in my entire life," O'Meara said. "I've never spoke with him. I've never exchanged words with him."
Te'o soared to fame when he led the Fighting Irish to a massive victory over Michigan State days after his grandmother and supposed girlfriend had died within hours of each other. The dramatic story landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated and sent his image — and, the woman believed to be Kekua, across television screens.
Te'o said he received a phone call on Dec. 6 — three months after Kekua had supposedly died of leukemia — from a woman claiming she was Kekua.
"Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later," Te'o said. "And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"
Te'o was joined by his parents, Brian and Ottilia Te'o.
Couric turned to Te'o father and asked what he thought of people calling his son a liar who "manipulated the truth, really for personal gain."
"People can speculate about what they think he is," Brian Te'o said, tears welling up in his eyes. "I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid."
ESPN reported earlier that Te'o spoke to Tuiasosopo on the phone the day the Deadspin story went live. He said Tuiasosopo admitted he was one of "two guys and a girl responsible for the whole thing."
The other two alleged perpetrators have not been identified.
Though Tuiasosopo has not made a public statement yet, his uncle has said the family is preparing to issue one and has hired an attorney.
Watch a preview of Te'o interview below:
Watch a preview of Brian Te'o's portion of the interview here:
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