In his first on-camera interview, Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o addressed questions surrounding his fictitious girlfriend, including speculation that he is gay.
Couric asked: “Some have suggested you created this whole story to coverup your sexual orientation. Are you gay?”
Te’o responded: “No. Far from it. Far from it.”
The story came to light after Deadspin published an expose last week, discovering that Te’o’s deceased girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was completely made up. Te’o claimed Kekua died from leukemia on the same day as his grandmother back in September, but still played in a game against Michigan State because he said that’s what Kekua would have wanted him to do.
Te'o claimed to have maintained a long-term relationship with Kekua, even though he never met her. The two supposedly spoke on the phone for hours.
Te’o went on to lead Notre Dame to an undefeated season and the BCS National Championship game, and even placed second in voting for the coveted Heisman Trophy.
It wasn’t until Dec. 6, when Kekua called him, did Te’o believe he was implicated in a hoax. On that date, Te’o said he received a call from Kekua’s phone number, and the woman on the other end of the line said she had faked her death in order to elude drug dealers.
From Dec. 6 to Jan. 16, Te’o said that he thought Kekua was dead, and later learned she was the creation of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Tuiasosopo later called Te’o to apologize and explained that he wanted to help people, according to Te’o.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Tuiasosopo was actually the one who talked to Te’o for hours and hours over the phone for months. Couric released the voicemails that Tuiasosopo allegedly left Te'o as Kekua, and the talk show host conceded that the voice sounded like a woman's.