Te'o tells all to Katie Couric

Notre Dame football star says he only lied to his parents

Published  5:09 PM HST Jan 24, 2013
Manti Te'o
HONOLULU -

"I just found out everything I believed to be my reality wasn't reality at all," said Manti Te'o in an interview on "Katie."

In the tell-all interview with Katie Couric, Te'o explains the strange story of how he fell in love with a woman he knew as Lennay Kekua.  Now, for the first time we hear the voice that Manti thought was hers.

The voice said, "Baby, baby I just called to say good night.  I love you."

Te'o says their relationship developed strictly online and over the phone, even though he gave misleading interviews indicating the two actually met.

"I wasn't forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie.  I was never asked, 'Did you see her in person?'" said Te'o.

What do you think after seeing Katie's interview?  Let your opinion be heard.  Join the Facebook discussion in our posts here and here.

The Heisman Trophy finalist says he attempted many times to meet Kekua in person, including last December when she was supposedly in Hawaii.

"She said, 'I'm over at the hotel, can you come over here?' and it's one of those things that never happened," said Te'o.

But, Te'o lied to his father and said they did meet.

"It's the thing I regret the most.  It's my way of trying to get my dad's approval of this young lady because if he knew I didn't meet her it would immediately say red flag, a red flag that I obviously should have seen," said Te'o.

Instead of noticing the red flag, Te'o kept logging hours on the phone with the girl even giving Couric his phone bill to prove it.

The woman Manti said he loved died on Sept. 12.  However, the football star says on Dec. 6, he got a phone call from someone who said she was Lennay, now saying she was alive.

He even asked the person to send a specific picture with Lennay's signature to prove it.  Despite knowing something was amiss, he talked about his dead girlfriend in an interview just two days later.

"Part of me was saying if you say she's alive, what would everybody think?  What are you gonna tell everybody who follows you or who you've inspired.  What are you gonna say?  At that time on Dec. 8, two days after I found out she was alive, as a 21-year-old I wasn't ready for that," said Te'o.

On Dec. 21, Te'o received the picture he asked for and decided to tell his parents.  On Jan. 16, when the Deadspin.com article came out saying Lennay was a phony, Te'o says he got a phone call from Roniah Tuiasosopo who confessed to creating the fake profile of Lennay Kekua.

"Did he explain why he did it?" asked Couric.

"He didn't explain why, he just explained he wanted to help people.  Being someone he wasn't trying to connect people on another level to help them out," said Te'o.

To this day, Te'o still doesn't know who was behind the voice on the phone, but the New York Daily News says Tuiasosopo's lawyer claims it was his client the whole time, pretending to be a female.

Te'o denied any involvement in the hoax.

Couric also interviewed Te'o's parents Brian and Otillia.

Do you want to print this page now?