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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 27 October 2020

Dead girlfriend hoax: American football star tells Couric he briefly lied about girlfriend

But Manti Te’o insists he wasn’t in on the hoax.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, right, speaking with host Katie Couric during an interview for
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, right, speaking with host Katie Couric during an interview for "Katie," in New York.
Image: (AP Photo/Disney-ABC, Lorenzo Bevilaqua)

NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER Manti Te’o has told American TV presenter Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend after discovering she didn’t exist, while maintaining that he had no part in creating the hoax.

Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, Te’o said he believed that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died of cancer and didn’t lie about it until December.

“Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on 12 September. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on 12 September,” Te’o said in an interview to air tomorrow on Couric’s talk show.  The Heisman Trophy runner-up said he only learned of the hoax when he received a phone call in December from a woman saying she was Kekua.

“Now I get a phone call on 6 December, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?” Te’o said.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up — the award for the top college footballer in the US — talked about his doomed love in a web interview on 8 December and again in a newspaper interview published 10 December.

Te’o's father defended his son when Couric pointed out that many people don’t believe the ‘Irish’ star, suspecting he used the situation for personal gain.

“People can speculate about what they think he is. I’ve known him 21 years of his life. And he’s not a liar. He’s a kid,” Brian Te’o said with tears in his eyes.

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Associated Press

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