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Manti Te’o admits lying about dead girlfriend, but only after learning he was victim of hoax

01.23.13 at 8:55 am ET

Manti Te’o told Katie Couric that he lied about his online girlfriend in the weeks between finding out she didn’t exist and acknowledging that fact to Notre Dame officials.

“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 his first TV interview on the situation, to air Thursday on Couric’s syndicated talk show.

“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later,” he continued. “And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?”

Te’o said that up until he got that phone call, he believed Lennay Kekua was a real person and was not lying about her existence. However, after he found out in December, he talked about her to the press multiple times, continuing the narrative that had already been established by numerous news outlets.

Te’o’s father maintained that his son, up until he found out Kekua was not real, was the victim of a hoax and that he had not made up the story himself for personal gain.

“People can speculate about what they think he is. I’ve known him 21 years of his life. And he’s not a liar. He’s a kid,” Brian Te’o said with tears in his eyes.
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