Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o “perpetuated the heartbreaking story” of a girlfriend’s death after he supposedly had learned he was the victim of a hoax and that she never existed, The Associated Press writes.
And Sports Illustrated has posted what it says is the transcript of an interview it had with Te’o last September in which the player talks of having “met” the young woman, known her for four years and having dated her for nearly one year — comments that are all seemingly at odds with his new account of what happened.
Those are two of the latest stories that add to the many contradictions surrounding the news that Te’o now says the young woman — named “Lennay Kekua” — wasn’t real, that he was the victim of some sort of hoax and that the only relationship he had with someone who pretended to be her was online and over the phone. As we wrote Thursday, there are other stories from last fall that raise questions about Te’o’s claim of having been the victim.
More on the AP and SI reports:
— “An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn’t she dead, she wasn’t real.”
— In a Sept. 23 interview (about two weeks after Kekua’s supposed death), SI‘s Pete Thamel asked Te’o, “How did you meet her?” The player’s response: “We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular.”
“How long were you dating?” Thamel asked.
“Oct. 15 was the official date,” Te’o responds. “Of last year. I’ve known her for four years. So we’ve been friends.”
“So you dated for about a year,” says Thamel.
“Yeah,” says Te’o.
As we also wrote Thursday:
“The reason the news that Te’o may be the victim of a hoax has captured so much attention is that last fall, when there were reports that both his grandmother and his girlfriend had died within hours of each other, the Heisman Trophy contender was embraced by both Notre Dame fans and many others across the nation.”
According to the AP, “Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon, said the athlete had no plans to make any public statements.” Te’o is said to be at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., training with other NFL hopefuls.