On Thursday, the highly-anticipated interview between Katie Couric and Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o aired, revealing a bit more about the “Catfish-like” scheme that came to light last week.
In the interview, Te’o acknowledged that he embellished the story to his friends, football team and parents, but he still denies any involvement in the scam.
He told Couric that the same day everyone found out about the hoax, he found out as well.
When Couric asked him if he created the hoax to cover up his sexuality, Te’o said no. She then asked him explicitly if he was gay.
“No! Far from it…far from it.”
Addressing the rumors that he and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo had a relationship prior to him finding out about the hoax, Te’o said that he had only talked to Kekua’s “favorite cousin” twice.
“The only time I would talk to Ron is when I couldn’t find Lennay.”
Te’o told Couric that he would fall asleep on the phone with “Kekua” and wake up talking to her. The journalist backed up Te’o’s statements by obtaining his phone records. Te’o even said that he would hear respirators and machines in the background when he would talk to “Kekua” while she was in the hospital suffering from leukemia.
When Couric asked about video chatting, Te’o told her that they would try to Skype, but there would be a black box where her face should be.
“She would say I can see you I don’t know why you don’t see me,” Te’o said.
“You didn’t think that was weird,” Couric said.
Te’o then got a call from Tuiasosopo saying that “Kekua” had died. On Dec. 6, he got a call saying that “Kekua” was in fact alive. Skeptical and upset, Te’o asked for a picture from her holding up a sign so he could know she was real. And on Dec. 21st he received that picture, which was actually a photo of Diane O’Meara. (Tuiasosopo asked her to take the photograph for someone in the hospital and she didn’t know it would be used for the hoax).
It wasn’t until Jan. 16 when Deadspin revealed the hoax that Tuiasosopo sent Te’o a direct message on Twitter admitting that he impersonated Kekua. They then had a phone call where Tuiasosopo apologized to Te’o.
It wasn’t until later that he actually told his parents the entire relationship was a hoax.
“I wasn’t as forthcoming about it, I was embarrassed to feel that I had ever seen this person,” Te’o said. “The biggest lie that I’m sorry for is the lie that I told my dad.”
Te’o is referring to the time he told his father, Brian Te’o, that he had seen Kekua in Hawaii to gain approval from his parents.
“As my way of trying to get my dads approval of this young lady, I knew that if he knew that I didn’t meet her he’d immediately say no.”
Both Te’o and his parents, who appeared with him on the show, were visibly upset. His parents defended his honor, saying that he is just a kid who got caught up in the hoax that duped them all. As for now, Te’o says he hopes this won’t affect his draft status, and says he’s sticking by his family in this challenging time.
Since news that Te’o would sit down with Couric, news that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was actually the “woman” on the other end of the phone has stirred up even more confusion, especially after the audio tapes that Te’o gave to Couric of Lennay Kekua’s voicemails.
According to TMZ, Tuiasosopo blew his cover on Dec. 6 when he called Te’o to tell him he was “alive” because he had very intense feelings for the football player:
Sources very close to Ronaiah tell TMZ … he struggled for years trying to adapt to the expectations of his culture, his religion and his family. Ronaiah, we’re told, never had a serious physical relationship with anyone and created a female persona online as a way to vent his feelings.
We’re told Ronaiah used the female persona in many encounters, but so far there’s no evidence he became intensely emotionally attached to anyone — until Manti. We’ve confirmed when Ronaiah spoke with Manti as “Lennay Kekua” he used his own voice.
Indeed … Ronaiah’s feelings became so intense, he blew his cover on December 6 because it was hard to walk away. He never intended to reveal Manti was actually talking to a man … he just wanted to reconnect with Manti, but still as a woman.
After seeing the interview, do you believe that Te’o really didn’t know about the hoax?
SOURCE: ABC | TMZ