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What Te’o said to try and explain girlfriend hoax
Question of the Day
Q: THROUGHOUT THE SEASON, THOUGH, TE’O SPOKE ABOUT HIS DEAD GIRLFRIEND AS IF SHE WE A LIVING PERSON. HOW DOES HE EXPLAIN THAT?
A: This is where it gets complicated. Te'o says he thought his girlfriend was real, but when she died _ and word got out that he was playing through the deaths of both his grandmother and girlfriend _ he was embarrassed that he had only ever had contact with Kekua online and by phone. Already, he had lied to his father and told him that he had seen Kekua.
So, in Te'o’s words, “I knew that _ I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet, and that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away. So people wouldn’t think that I was some crazy dude.”
Q: HOW DID THE SCHEME UNRAVEL?
A: Te'o received a phone call on Dec. 6 from the Kekua’s phone number. On the line was a woman who sounded like Kekua. He says he was confused, and thought it was one of her sisters. The woman was telling him a story about having to fake her death to evade drug dealers but not directly identifying herself. Te'o said “She kept going back and forth. `It’s me.’
“I eventually just gave up and said, `Who is me?’ And she said, `It’s Lennay.’ So we carried on that conversation, and I just got mad. I just went on a rampage. How could you do this to me? I ended that conversation by saying, simply, this: `You know what, Lennay, my Lennay died on Sept. 12. I don’t know who you are, but Lennay died on Sept. 12th,’ and that conversation ended.”
Te'o said he didn’t know what to think at that point and her continued to refer to Lennay as his “girlfriend.” The woman contacted him again and the tales got even more confusing. He says he didn’t think that Lennay wasn’t real, he thought she might still be alive but that she was possibly toying with him.
He told his mother on Christmas Eve what was going on and his father on Christmas Day, and on Dec. 26th he told Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Within days, Notre Dame ordered an investigation.
Q: HOW ELABORATE WAS THE SCHEME?
A: Very, according to Te'o. The pranksters used multiple characters, they sent photos of the flowers Te'o sent for Lennay’s “funeral” to him to show they arrived. Te'o claims they became agitated when he began to see another girl at Notre Dame in December, and a woman claiming to be Lennay’s sister called Te'o’s mother to complain about it.
Lennay had a large extended family, Te'o says he was told, including a young relative, a 9-year-old girl named Pookah. Te'o met her face-to-face, along with Tuiasosopo, when Notre Dame was in California in November to play USC.
By Robert N. Tracci
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