In his first TV interview, Manti Te’o told Katie Couric Thursday that what he “went through was real.”
The Notre Dame linebacker, who’s athleticism and tragic personal story buoyed him to stardom, has been in the spotlight ever since DeadSpin revealed part of that amazing story wasn’t real.
The girlfriend whom Te’o had said died on the same day as his grandmother never existed. He had a relationship with a man who pretended to be Lennay Kekua.
Couric asked Te’o directly whether he had lied to an Sports Illustrated interviewer when said he had met his “girlfriend” at a USC game.
“I wasn’t as forthcoming as I should have been but I didn’t lie,” he said about the SI interview. “He never asked if I saw her in person.”
Another theory swirling around is that Te’o is gay and that he made up all of this in order to cover it up. Couric asked him about that directly.
“Far from it,” answered Te’o.
Couric asked Te’o why he continued to repeat the story about his dead girlfriend even though he knew the truth.
Te’o seemed to imply that admiting he had been duped was too hard.
“You know, what would you do?” he said, adding that what he felt for his girlfriend was real. “What I went through was real. The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real.”
There was also another big shocker in the Te’o case today: As The New York Daily News reports, the lawyer of Ronaiah Tuiasopo, the alleged perpetrator of the hoax, says it was his client faking a woman’s voice at the other end of those hours of phone conversations.
“This wasn’t a prank to make fun,” Milton Grimes told The News. “It was establishing a communication with someone. … It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”
During his interview with Couric, Te’o released voicemails he says Tuiasopo left for him.
In them, he sounds very much like a woman. Have a listen: