Manti Te’o is breaking his public silence about the controversy over his dead girlfriend who turned out to be fake.
The Notre Dame linebacker said he was not part of the hoax to invent Lennay Kekua, a fictitious woman he befriended and carried out a relationship with online. Kekua became a major story this year when she reportedly died of leukemia on the same day that Te’o’s grandmother passed away.
The hoax came to light this week after a Deadspin expose unveiled that it was all a hoax. The article claimed it was likely started by an acquaintance of Te’o, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Tuiasosopo reportedly confessed to a friend in December that he orchestrated the hoax, ESPN reported. There is now evidence that others may have carried on relationships with Lennay Kekua.
Notre Dame officials have spoken out in support of Manti Te’o, saying that he is the victim in this case. Now, Te’o is speaking out himself as well.
In an interview with ESPN on Friday, Te’o told Jeremy Schaap that he had no part in the hoax.
“No. Never,” Te’o told ESPN. “I wasn’t faking it,” he said. “I wasn’t part of this.”
“When (people) hear the facts, they’ll know,” he said. “They’ll know that there is no way that I could be part of this.”
While some have questioned why it took Manti Te’o close to three weeks after learning about the hoax to inform Notre Dame officials, The Associated Press reported that it was Te’o’s shame that kept him quiet.
Manti Te’o was left feeling humiliated and hurt by the fake giflfriend hoax, Notre Dame officials said.