Just when you thought college football couldn't get any weirder, there comes this: The beyond-bizarre Manti Te'o story.
Deadspin.com reported on Wednesday evening that the much-trotted-out story about Te'o persevering in the face of the death of his girlfriend was, well, all a big hoax. Because, as it turned out, the girlfriend in question did not actually exist.
According to the Deadspin report, there is no record of the alleged girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, ever walking this earth of ours. As such, of course, there is no record of her death, either.
The story hit late Wednesday and nearly blew up the Internet, and by 8 p.m. that evening, Notre Dame had called a news conference to explain their side of the story. According to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, Te'o--who spoke often about his alleged girlfriend during the season--was a victim of an elaborate hoax, one that came into focus when the linebacker received a phone call on Dec. 26, from a person claiming to be Kekua. In that call, Kekua revealed that she was not dead.
"When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same person he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead," Swarbrick explained. "Manti was very unnerved by that, as you might imagine."
Swarbrick also said he had every reason to believe that Te'o was an innocent victim in this strange episode. The linebacker said as much, too, issuing a statement of his own on Wednesday evening.
Said Te'o: "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."
Suffice to say, there is more to come, folks. Much more.
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