Well this makes it to the top of the awkward Richter Scale.
According to Deadspin, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Manti Te’o dead-girlfriend hoax, was actually the one impersonating Lennay Kekua on the phone. It was originally thought that Tuiasosopo had a female accomplice who spoke to Te’o on the phone.
According to his lawyer, Milton Grimes, Tuiasosopo did not have sinister intentions and gave this explanation to the New York Daily News as to how his client was able to change his voice.
“Come on, Hollywood does it all the time,” Grimes said Wednesday. “People can do that.”
Grimes also described his client as a person with a “troubled existence” who was trying to “communicate and have a relationship.”
A newly released TMZ video sheds some light on that very statement. In the video, Te’o is embraced…awkwardly…by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo at a Notre Dame and USC football game back in November.
Manti told ESPN that he knew of Ronaiah during the now infamous Catfish hoax because his imaginary girlfriend, “Lennay Kekua,” told him that Tuiasosopo was her “favorite cousin.” Manti said he had never seen Ronaiah in person before the USC game.
The video was shot before the hoax was exposed, so naturally Tuiasosopo looks mad happy to hug Te’o.
According to TMZ:
In the footage, you can see the two were having a conversation before they each go in for a hug at the same time. But when Manti gives Ronaiah the “it’s time to let go” pat on the back, Ronny continues to hold the squeeze.
The USC vs. ND game was the same day Ronaiah allegedly duped a Notre Dame superfan into meeting Lennay’s fake sister U’ilani at the Tommy Trojan statue near the stadium. When the fan arrived, U’ilani wasn’t there … but Ronaiah sure was.
Oh sh*t! Looks like Te’o really didn’t know Tuiasosopo! We wonder if Nev from the television show Catfish has seen this, because it’s sure to give him some insight to help solve this case!