Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Elaborate Hoax Or Publicity Stunt?

Did Manti Te’o damage his draft position with a hoax? According to numerous sources Te’o’s dead girlfriend Lennay Kekua is fictional and quite possibly a publicity stunt created by Manti and a friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Notre Dame is claiming that Te’o was the victim of a hoax perpetuated by a sick individual who was preying on the star linebacker but when you look back you begin to see some glaring holes in this story. The sports website Deadspin, who broke the story, is claiming that he has been involved on the hoax the entire time.
Cutting to the chase, too many things do not add up. Over the years Manti claimed that he met Lennay Kekua at the ND-Stanford game on November 28, 2009 and talked on the phone every night for hours on end, his father Brian at one point stated that Lennay had come out to Hawaii on a number of occasions in 2010 and 2011 but during a recent interview Brian said the family never met her and was looking forward to meeting her in November.
Now that reporters are tearing things apart it appears that “Lennay Kekua” is a digital phantom, a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account only. She was never a Stanford graduate, she never traveled to Hawaii, she was never in a car accident and she was never diagnoised with Leukemia, she never died or had a funeral. The first contact between Te’o and Kekua appears to be a tweet in October 2011, since then her Twitter account has changed names a number of times and even now is still active but private. All pictures of her from her Facebook and Twitter accounts came from a lady in Torrance, California, who does not know Te’o but went to school with Tuiasosopo who had recently contacted her and asked her to take a picture holding a sign that says “MSMK”, the name that was attached to Kekua’s Twitter account, and surprise surprise the picture showed up on Kekua’s account months after she had “died”.
No matter how this plays out I don’t think it will really affect his draft stock, considering how many problems there are already in the NFL, but collectors may look at him differently. I honestly paid little attention to Notre Dame this year so I had not heard about this sad tale before it blew up and I have no emotional connection here. If he is a victim, this is a horrible prank that should turn in to legal problems for someone. If this is a publicity stunt to gain attention for the Heisman Trophy voting and National Championship run than Te'o has done nothing but damage his reputation.

EDIT 1/17: And the story gets more interesting...

Last night Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia told ESPN that he met Lennay Kekua in 2011, he said he was introduced to her by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, and claims that he was close to her and her family. Mauia also said that Troy Polamalu met her, though Troy has not said anything in response.

If this woman is real, as Mauia claims, than why are there no records of her anywhere? Stanford says they have no record of her, there is no birth or death records, no social security information about her, no information about her devastating auto accident in early 2012 and where was she buried?

Additionally, the "dead" girlfriend Tweeted last night saying that everything will be addressed Thursday at noon PST time, just about 5 hours from now.

Some people are making speculations that I will not address here but it does seem that the whole situation is fishy.

EDIT 1/17 PM:
OK, so nothing was addressed as the "dead" girlfriend's tweet claimed so we are no further there but a couple of things have been brought up that adds more to the "Te'o was involved" camp.

Yesterday Notre Dame and Te'o said that he found out on December 6th that there was no Lennay Kekua, that the whole thing was a hoax but on December 8th and then again on December 10th Te'o did interviews (one with a web site and one with a newspaper) and in both interviews he referenced how Kekua's passing has affected him. If he knew it was a hoax on December 6th why would he go in to depth in two separate interviews with in days of finding out?

Additionally, Notre Dame said that the coaches were notified on December 26th that Te'o was a victim of the hoax yet in early January they supported a charity, set up by an ex-student/player, who was collecting donations for cancer research in honor of Kekua and  they even sent a reporter from the school newspaper to do  an interview with the organizers. If Notre Dame coaches really knew that it was a hoax why would the university back a charity that was collecting donations using Lennay Kekua's name?

It doesn't help that Sports Illustrated released transcripts today from a one on one interview with Te'o from September 23, 2012 where Te'o went in to detail about how he met Miss Kekua following a game against Stanford in 2009. So now we have straight proof that he did in fact say, no matter what he is now claiming, that he met the girl in person.

This story is turning in to a monster and so far much of the facts seem to be against Te'o being a victim, hopefully he will come out and admit it was a bad decision at a publicity stunt that went to far. It is insane that Notre Dame is standing by the idea that Te'o has been a victim of a hoax for at least 3 years. I have never heard of anyone carrying on a prank for this amount of time, there was never an attempt at financial gain so what would be the motivation here? The only gain would be the sympathy that Te'o would receive just in time for the Heisman Trophy voting.


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