Bradenton, Fla. – Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o insists he had no role in perpetrating the bizarre hoax involving his "dead" girlfriend, although he did overstate the extent of their relationship.
He told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap in a 2 ½-hour interview Friday night he was duped by an acquaintance in California named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who confessed the prank and apologized to him two days ago.
Te'o says he never met his supposed girlfriend, “Lennay Kekua,” but had lied to his father about it and found himself having to lie to everyone else.
After he was told Kekua had died of leukemia in early September, Te'o admitted he misled the public about the nature of the "relationship" because he was uncomfortable saying it was purely an electronic romance.
Te'o told ESPN he knew "it was crazy" to say he was with somebody he hadn't met, so he tailored his stories to make people think he had met the woman before she died.
Te'o says he had attempted to speak to the woman via Skype and video calls, but found the picture blocked. Still, he says never thought he was being fooled until December.