Meet the “real” Lennay Kekua: The photos belonging to Notre Dame star Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend are of a woman named Diane O’Meara, whose identity was stolen during the hoax.
O’Meara is a 23-year-old marketing executive from Los Angeles who was shocked to discover that a picture from her personal Facebook account was being used for online profiles belonging to “Lennay Kekua,” reports MSN.
The key suspect in the hoax is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who knew both O’Meara and Te’o, reports The Daily Mail. As a former classmate of O’Meara’s, Tuiasosopo asked her to take a picture for a friend who had been in a car accident. This photo ended up being used by Tuiasosopo in the Te’o hoax.
O’Meara and Te’o never actually dated, but have one thing in common: Neither one of them are talking to the media about the hoax.
However, members of O’Meara’s family did answer a few questions for The New York Post. Olga Volkov describes O’Meara as a “good person” from a “good family.” She continued, “Somebody stole her identity (O’Meara’s family) found out about it yesterday. They were shocked.”
The story of Te’o and his fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua earned the Notre Dame star national support last September as his team headed into crunch games for the BCS championships. Kekua supposedly recovered from a near-fatal car accident, only to die around September 12 from leukemia. Just six hours before, Te’o learned that his grandmother had passed away.
CBS paid tribute to Kekua, showing a picture of her (in reality, O’Meara) on This Morning with a “direct quote” she said to Te’o: “‘Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you’ll stay there and you’ll play and you’ll honor me through the way you play.”
When contacted by Deadspin, the publication that broke the fake girlfriend story, O’Meara simply said: “That picture is a picture of me from my Facebook account.”
“Right now, I’m not making any comment,” she said.