So everyone knows now that the moving story about how Manti Te’o’s girlfriend died back in September was false, and that said girlfriend never existed. But a lot of questions are still unanswered. And that, of course, opens the door to a lot of different theories about what really happened.
Want to see a sampling of these theories? Well great. Here are 11 of them. I’d say they’re all pretty much equally plausible.
Manti knew that as a linebacker, even the best one in the country, he wouldn't stand to get a lot of recognition when it came time for Heisman Trophy voting. So he and his friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo hatched this plan to create a fake girlfriend and then kill her off so everyone would be like, oh wow, that Manti Te'o is so brake and courageous!
They would have got away with it, too, if not for those pesky kids over at Deadspin.
11. The Balloon Boy Theory
Manti and his buddy didn't intend for this whole thing to get so big. It all started with Manti lying to some teammates, telling them he hooked up with some Stanford chick after a game in Palo Alto. Then he had his buddy make a fake Twitter account to back that lie up. But then he couldn't just act like it was just some chick he nailed because he's a devout mormon and he has a reputation to uphold. So he said they were dating, one thing led to another, and pretty soon everyone thought he had this serious girlfriend. Then he was going to just say they broke up, but he was afraid people might try to look her up. So they decided to say she died—which was fine until the national media got hold of the story and his parents wanted to hear about this girl. Then Manti was faced with either lying more to cover up the other lies or be exposed as a liar. So he lied some more.
Boom. Giant out of control snow ball.
10. The Snowball Theory
Manti is gay, but he can't come out because (a) he's a football player, (b) he's a devout mormon, and (c) he plays football for Catholic Disney Land (aka Notre Dame). So Ronaiah helped Manti cover up his lust for dudes.
But why would Ronaiah put his neck on the line in that way? Because he is Manti's lover. Duh. It's so obvious. Neither of them can be openly gay, so they made up this cover story.
9. The Brokeback Mountain Theory
Ronaiah wasn't the mastermind. He was the pawn. And not Manti's pawn, but the pawn of the girl pretending to be Lennay Kukua.
Oh that's right, there was a real girl. Manti wasn't lying when he said he talked on the phone every night; it's just that the girl he was talking to wasn't named Lennay. It was some chick who first met Ronaiah on Facebook and convinced him to help her get photos of some other random chick on Facebook that he went to high school with. Then she used those as her Twitter avatar, that way no one would trace it back to her.
So who was this mystery girl? Who know—maybe this girl?
8. The Catfish Threory
Manti and Ronaiah were friends as kids, see, and one time for his birthday Ronaiah got this awesome bike that Manti really, really wanted. So Manti pushed Ronaiah's sister in front of a bus and blamed Ronaiah. He then went to jail and Manti got the bike. But Ronaiah never forgot about that, and all those years spent in juve he was planning his revenge. Then this year it all came together—Ronaiah made Manti fall in love with a girl who didn't exist, killed her off (so Manti would be heartbroken and dejected), then leaked the idea that Manti had created the fake girlfriend.
You have to admit it's pretty brilliant.
7. The Revenge Theory
Either Manti is an incredibly good actor and was able to give completely believable false interviews, or he was in love with a girl who died. But the records all lead to nowhere, so how could that be?
Well, when you hear the answer you're going to hit yourself on the head because it's so obvious: Lennay Kukua was a ghost. But she obviously was not the ghost of someone who had already lived and died, otherwise there would be a record of that person somewhere. No, Lennay was a ghost from the future who travelled back in time to prevent a tragedy in her family, but who fell in love with Manti Te'o along the way. She never met him in person because she couldn't, being a ghost who's...uh...trapped in the internet. Yeah, that's it. She was trapped in the internet. And she made up the story about her dying (which wasn't made up because that's how she actually died in the future) because she didn't want to string Manti along anymore, yet knew he would never believe that she was a ghost from the future.
6. The Supernatural Theory
SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't seen Fight Club, skip to the next one.
Why would Lennay never follow through on her plans to meat Manti in person? How could it be that Lennay wasn't real when Manti spoke so convincingly about his love for her? Simple: Manti is Lennay. He suffers from—are you ready for this?—multiple personality disorder, only he never knew it. The person he fell in love with was himself all along! It's like Fight Club only instead of fighting his other personality he was sending her sexy emails.
Did that just blow your mind? Sorry.
5. The Fight Club Theory
Oh, Lennay Kukua was a real person. Manti did talk to her on the phone, he did hear from her brother on the day she died, and she was the love of his life. Unfortunately, she was also obsessed with bigfoot and, a few months back, had obtained definitive proof of the ape-like creature's existence.
Well, you know who couldn't let definitive proof of sasquatch get out, right? Yep, you know it: the CIA. So they sent secret agents to California who killed Lennay and her entire family, then erased their identity from the Social Security Administration records. (Yes, the CIA can do that.)
What about Ronaiah, you ask? Obviously he's a CIA agent who's part of the coverup.
4. The Sasquatch Theory
Notre Dame is a very Catholic university, and some of the big wigs there were not too happy that Manti Te'o, a mormon, had become such a star. Therefore they initiated a very complicated plan to discredit Manti without harming the university's reputation.
What was that plan? Well, they brought in an operative from the Vatican's super secret cabal of ninja assassins, Opus Dei, and he killed off Lennay and her entire family. Then he brainwashed Manti's lifelong pal, Ronaiah, and had him leave a trail of evidence suggesting he and Manti were in on the hoax.
3. The Dan Brown Theory
Manti Te'o is actually Batman. And as you know, Batman can't let his enemies find out who is closest to him. So, to protect his actual girlfriend, Katharine Webb, Manti and his sidekick, Ronaiah "Robin" Tuiasosopo, created a fake internet girlfriend that evil criminal masterminds would spend all their time hunting down while leaving Miss Alabama alone.
2. The Superhero Theory
It's true. There is nobody named Lennay Kukua—in this universe. But there is a Lennay in a parallel universe. And what happened was, some major disturbance in the space time continuum created a small worm hole connecting these two universes. That's how Manti and Lennay met.
But here's what will really blow your mind: over in that other universe, they just found out there is no Manti Te'o.