HOAX: Notre Dame Football Star Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend Never Existed

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This season, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was lionized for playing football after the death of his grandmother, who died of natural causes after a long illness, and his girlfriend, Lennay Marie Kekua, who died of leukemia.

Kekua, whom Te’o called “the love of my life,” and Te’o’s grandmother died hours apart before Notre Dame played Michigan State in mid-September. Te’o, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, dedicated the season to them. And the national press and the college football world lauded him for his impeccable character.

On Wednesday, Deadspin, after an exhaustive investigation, revealed that this girlfriend, Lennay Marie Kekua, never existed. Her death was a hoax. And there are more questions than answers. Notre Dame has claimed, in a statement, that Te’o was actually the victim–and not the perpetrator–of this hoax. Te’o also released a statement saying he was “embarrassed” because he was duped by a woman with whom he had an online relationship.

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