Either Manti Te’o got hoodwinked or he hoodwinked us all. We’re just not sure which one it is yet. Here is what we do know.
It was a tragic, heartwarming story: Talented University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o had a long-distance girlfriend who was in a bad car accident sometime in the summer of 2012.
Lennay Kekua overcame her injuries only to discover that she had fatal leukemia. According to his own account, Te’o often fell asleep listening to her breathing on the other end of the phone line while he was at school in Indiana and she was on her deathbed in at St. Jude Medical Center just outside of Los Angeles.
Then, on Sept. 10, Kekua was released from the hospital, according to an account given to the South Bend Tribune by Te’o’s father Brian. On Sept. 11, Te’o’s beloved grandmother died (for real) — and just hours later, so did Kekua (except not really because she wasn’t real).
On the day of Kekua’s supposed funeral, Te’o made a record 12 tackles to upset the University of Michigan 13-6. He did not attend the funeral because Kekua told him not to miss a game, but he did send white roses to a funeral that never happened for a dead girl that never existed.
Te’o helped Notre Dame finish out the regular season undefeated and became the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Unfortunately, the story of a gifted player overcoming a double tragedy while becoming the undisputed best linebacker in college football was just too good to be true.
Deadspin unraveled all the details in their compelling and surreal story, but we broke it down to the tall tale’s craziest components.