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The Manti Te’o Hoax – Yes, His Girlfirend Lennay Kekua Was Fake

Manti Te'o
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2012 college football season featured a dream run from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the most public face of that season was star defensive player, Manti Te’o.  He was a Heisman finalist and overcame tremendous adversity during the season – or did he?

If you’ve followed Te’o’s story, you know that he lost both is grandmother an a girlfriend during the heart of the football season. However, a shocking and potentially damning article appeared today in the sport blogging website, Deadspin, now says his girlfriend Lennay Kekua never existed.

From the Deadspin story:

Manti Te’o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.

Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there’s no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.

The University of Notre Dame released a statement saying that they are aware of the story and confirm a hoax had been perpetrated. The statement was reported by South Bend television station, WSBT.  The spokesperson for the university takes the stance that Te’o was the victim of the hoax and not a co-conspirator:

On December 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. 


Coverage from WSBT

Original Deadspin article 

Read: Did Brian Kelly's Flirtation with the NFL Prove Notre Dame's Irrelevancy?

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