With all the speculation, criticism, tweets, and analysis that came after Deadspin's big reveal on Wednesday, the person people wanted to hear from the most was Manti Te'o himself. In the wee hours of the morning, Te'o finally spoke to ESPN in his first interview since his deceased girlfriend was revealed as a fake. One of the big questions that surrounded the story was if the linebacker was involved in the whole thing. Te'o denied his involvement and said, "I wasn't faking it. I wasn't part of this." He didn't even fully believe Lennay Kekua didn't exist until Wednesday, when Deadspin broke the story.
But he did admit to altering the real story for the press. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away," he said, noting he didn't actually meet Kekua. "So that people wouldn't think that I was some crazy dude." He also admitted to lying to his father about meeting Kekua. Te'o did try to see her via Skype and Facetime, but he only got a "black box" on the other end of the line, according to the interview.
Also, in another strange twist to the story, a female voice who claimed to be "Kekua" called Te'o on Dec. 6, way after her supposed death from leukemia on Sept. 12. He said he at first believed it was her sister, but the voice insisted it was actually the deceased Kekua: "She said, 'It's Lennay.' So we carried on that conversation, and I just got mad. I just went on a rampage. 'How could you do this to me?' I ended that conversation by saying simply this: 'You know what? Lennay, my Lennay, died on Sept. 12.'"
Another encounter happened before the BCS Championship Game, when a group of people associated with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (who was behind the whole hoax) showed up in the Miami hotel lobby claiming they were there to meet up with Kekua.
Read more of the 2½-hour interview at ESPN.com.
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