If you’re looking for one of the most bizarre sports stories of all time, you’re in the right place.
After months and months of “mainstream media” reports about the inspirational story of Manti Te’o and how in September he played through the heartache of losing his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, to leukemia, Deadspin.com did something nobody else thought to do.
Namely, they tried to look up said deceased girlfriend’s obituary. And when they couldn’t find that, they tried to look up her death certificate with the social security administration. And when they could’t find that, they started looking at her social media accounts more carefully. And…well, pretty soon, the whole story started to unravel.
What Deadspin.com discovered was that there was no Lennay Kekua. She was totally made up. Never born, never died. So all those quotes in newspaper and magazine stories from Manti and his family about Lennay? How he talked to her on the phone every night while she lied in her hospital bed, and how she came to visit him in Hawaii? Lies. Those things didn’t happen. Because, again, Lennay Kekua was not a real person.
Oh sure, there were photos of Lennay from her Twitter account. But those were actually photos of some other woman who had been duped by a 22-year-old man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Tuiasosopo contacted an old high school acquaintance on Facebook, gave her a sad sack story about a dying cousin, and asked if she would please take a photo of herself holding a sign that said MSMK to, I don’t know, inspire him to live or something? She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t think this was some elaborate scam to create a fake girlfriend. She just took and sent the pictures—which then ended up on the fake Lennay’s Twitter account, the handle for which was @LoveMSMK.
And this is where is starts to look really, really bad for Manti Te’o. You see, Manti and Ronaiah are good buddies, and it’s obvious now that Ronaiah was Lennay Kekua–at least on social media. So one has to think that Manti was in on this scam.
But he denies it, of course. The University of Notre Dame released an official statement saying that Manti and his family came to them on December 26 and told them they’d been the victims of a cruel hoax, and would they please help them, yada yada yada. And Manti has now released a statement of his own, saying, “To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
But here’s the thing. If that’s true, and Manti was just the victim of a cruel hoax, then he is a moron and a liar.
A moron because he fell for some girl he never even talked to. And a liar because he definitely added his own personal embellishments to the “tragically dead girlfriend” story.
Take a look at this interview he did with ESPN earlier this fall:
“The last thing she said to me was, ‘I love you'”? Yeah, no, she didn’t.
Like I said, either Manti and his family are idiots, or the kid was in on it. If they are idiots, that means Manti fell for some girl online, never met in person or even Skyped with her, but nevertheless, came to believe she was the love of his life. And if this is all true, then that means this Ronaiah Tuiasosopo guy is kind of a criminal mastermind, having stolen pictures and found other “actors” to play the parts of Lennay and her tearful brother in phone calls to Manti.
The more likely story? Manti and Ronaiah made the whole thing up, and it went way too far.
Why would they do this? For attention, maybe. Or, as some people have been speculating, maybe to cover up the fact that Manti is gay?
That’s just pure speculation, of course, but at this point I think any cockamamie story about Manti Te’o is fair game.
Anyway, if you’re keeping track at home…
Johnny Manziel: real live girlfriend.
AJ McCarron: real live girlfriend.
Manti Te’o: fake dead girlfriend.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]