NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) —A hoax of epic proportions rocked the world of one of college footballs brightest athletes.
Sports site Deadspin.com published a report on Wednesday alleging a “hoax” involving Notre Dame star Manti Te’o. In the lengthy investigative piece, Deadspin said Lennay Kekua, who was thought to be Te’o’s deceased girlfriend, never existed.
On Twitter, the sports world reacted with shock. Notre Dame released a statement, saying Te’o appeared to be the “victim” of “a sad and very cruel deception.” Te’o may have been “in on it,” Deadspin reported.
However, later Wednesday, Te’o issued a statement saying “I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies.”
“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,” the statement read.
Notre Dame officials said coaches found out December 26 from Te’o himself. Te’o told them he received a phone call from a number he recognized as his deceased girlfriend, CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported.
The woman on the other end of the line said all along she used a fake name and lied about the entire tragedy.
Brian Hamilton, Notre Dame beat reporter for the the Chicago Tribune, said the report was “nothing short of stunning” on WFAN radio.