The sports blog Deadspin.com is reporting that the story about Manti Te'o's girlfriend dying of leukemia is a hoax. Te'o, a Notre Dame linebacker, was the runner-up to East Texas native and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Sports Illustrated reported that, in just six hours, Te'o learned about the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. Upon learning of the deaths, Te'o went out and led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State.
Deadspin contests that story, however, claiming to have found evidence that suggests that Kekua never even existed.
You can read the entire Deadspin article here.
Notre Dame released the following statement on their Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon:
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
According to ESPN.com, Te'o released a statement on Wednesday afternoon as well:
"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.
"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."
Manziel weighed in on the matter on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, tweeting, "Just so people know the media doesn't always paint the correct picture.. They just care about getting a good story and nothing else matters."
Later, Manziel added, "Will be just as shocked as everyone else if it's true. #waiting."
Te'o, a senior, led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 record in the regular season before the Golden Domers lost to Alabama 42-14 in the BCS National Championship game.
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