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Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o’s Dying Girlfriend Was a Hoax

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In early September, Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te’o—just days after learning of the death of his girlfriend—led the Fighting Irish to an emotional upset of then-#10 Michigan State. However, in one of the most bizarre twists we’ve seen in college football, it now appears that the whole story about a dying girlfriend was a hoax.

Lennay Kekua was reportedly a 22-year-old student at Stanford whom Te’o met following an Irish game in Palo Alto in 2009. The pair reportedly started dating in early 2012. But in the last year, Kekua supposedly was involved in a serious auto accident, was diagnosed with leukemia, and had a bone marrow transplant before succumbing to the disease just hours after Te’o’s grandmother also passed away on September 11.

But investigative reporters at Deadspin started looking into the story and quickly found some problems, including:

  • Stanford had no record of a Lennay Kekua being a student
  • There are no public records of a Lennay Kekua being in a car accident on the night in question
  • There are no death records for a Lennay Kekua passing away in mid-September
  • There were no death notices or obituaries for a Lennay Kekua
  • The photo of “Lennay Kekua” used by various media outlets were actually pirated from another woman’s Facebook page

The whole story about Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend was all a hoax. But the question now is, by whom? In a press conference late Wednesday, Te’o claimed that their relationship had all been online or on the phone and that he had been the victim of a cruel hoaxster who had carried on the ruse for several months. But with Te’o claiming to have never actually visited Lennay Kekua in person despite “dating” for more than eight months and her supposedly having several health issues, his announcement may raise more questions than answers.


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