In his first on-camera interview, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o admitted to lying after finding out his online girlfriend was fake.
The 21-year-old became a college football star after playing through the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend in the same week, and went on to place second for the Heisman Trophy. However, a story published by Deadspin last week unraveled a hoax and proved Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, not only did not die, but never existed.
Te’o and his parents sat down with Katie Couric for her show “Katie,” and the full interview will air Thursday at 3 p.m. eastern time. You can check what channel to watch on the show’s official website here.
"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," Te’o said in a excerpt of the interview shown Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
After the story broke, Te’o said in a public statement that he learned of the hoax on Dec. 6, but news outlets reviewed interviews after that date, and showed Te’o referencing the Kekua. Speaking with Couric, Te'o insisted that he believed Kekua to be real, and to have died of cancer.
As he prepares for the upcoming NFL Draft in April, Te’o has faced accusations that he was complicit in the hoax, but has also become the butt of jokes around the country for falling for the ruse.
NBC’s “Today Show” interviewed Diane O'Meara, who said the alleged perpetrator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, used her picture to fool Te’o into believing she was "Lennay Kekua," and confessed the entire ordeal to her.
Te'o recently spoke off-camera with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, who walked away from the interview saying he believed Te'o's story.