With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is in the air, I mean it must be, I’ve seen Valentine’s Day gifts in Duane Reade since the beginning of the month. Also, it’s the end of January, so football is on a lot of people’s minds, with Superbowl and the Pro Bowl and whatever other bowl they do in football that I don’t care about because I can’t smoke out of it too.
Anyway, with February 14th well on the way, people are scrambling to find a date/Valentine for that special day of love and finding-the-one-good-piece-of-chocolate-in-the-heart-shaped-box. But not to worry! You can take a few tips from this guy:
If you’ve been following the news, you may know his face, but you definitely know his name. Dr. Love here goes by the name of Manti Te’o, a linebacker for Notre Dame’s college football team, the Fighting Irish, and recent reminder of why you should never fake having a girlfriend for a year (as if a reminder is needed).
Manti Te’o, raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, enrolled in Notre Dame in 2009, and had a fantastic season last year, making him “one of the most decorated collegiate football players of all time”. But it’s not only the awards that made his last season significant, but the personal conflict he was dealing with while racking up over 320 tackles.
The Notre Dame linebacker, only 3 days before getting 12 tackles in a win against Michigan State, leading them into Notre Dame’s best start in 10 years, reported that he had lost not only his grandmother Annette Santiago, but his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, their deaths only several hours apart.
Of course, this story sent news around him buzzing and changed those popularity polls almost as quick as learning that the girlfriend was fake all along did. However, not only was he relevant, but for anyone reading multiple articles about the story, the story seemed unclear and twisted. According to CBS and ESPN, Manti Te’o's “girlfriend”, Lennay Kekua died four days after Te’o's grandmother, CBS stating “…following the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend just four days apart…” and ESPN with the same exact words. However, NY Post released an article stating that the two significant figures in Te’o's life “died three days apart in mid-September”. But the South Bend Tribune, which should be a reliable source for all news Notre Dame, being Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana, stated in their September 22nd issue that Lennay Kekua died of complications with leukemia on September 11th and that Te’o's grandmother, Santiago died not 24 hours later. Then, on October 12th, Tribune takes it back stating that Santiago dies first and Lennay even has a chance to express her condolences over it. Finally, on the Oct 6th episode of College Gameday and ESPN’s website, a Gene Wojciechowski interview with Manti Te’o was released stating that Lennay Kekua passed six hours after Annette Santiago on September 12th, 2012. Her last words to Te’o were “I love you.”
In any case, the news had branched out and had gone from college sports news, to sports news, to a nationwide story, including CBS covering it in a three minute long segment with a picture of Lennay Kekua, and a “direct quote” from Lennay saying “Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you’ll stay there and you’ll play and you’ll honor me through the way you play.”
And play Te’o did. As aforementioned, Te’o played a fantastic game three days after tragedy struck him, defeating Michigan State. After that, the streak didn’t seem to stop. Te’o went on to have a phenomenal season that put him in the race for the Heisman Trophy, which he lost to Johnny Manziel. However, Te’o was awarded the Lombardi Award as college football’s best lineman or linebacker.
However, last week, Deadspin got in contact with the girl in the picture CBS released, Diane O’Meara, finding her confused at the fact that she had become the face of “Lennay Kekua”.
This is where the story gets not only interesting, but potentially confusing.
To put it simply, there is no Lennay Kekua. Te’o's and Kekua’s first encounter that Tribune wrote about stating that it was after a game against Stanford in Palo Alto, never happened. Their phone calls, even the one where Te’o reported was their last together, never happened.
But before immediately putting Manti Te’o in the bad light, consider this: Manti Te’o and a girl named “Lennay Kekua” did start contacting each other through Twitter in 2011 (starting here:)
And, following those interactions, became a couple, through the internet all the while, in January 2012. The hashtag #LMK for her initials Lennay Marie Kekua appeared in his tweets from time to time.
Lennay’s Twitter account had been using images Diane O’Meara, which all came from her Instagram and Facebook. But one picture was not only not on either of those accounts, but it was also never posted on the internet anywhere. It was taken and only given to one person, a Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person that makes Manti Te’o a mere accomplice in this scandal. He created “Lennay” on Twitter in 2008 and Manti wasn’t the first person to be in an online relationship with her. One was with her for a month before ultimately realizing the suspicious nature of the situation.
It’s been confirmed that this Ronaiah and Manti Te’o know each other. A source from Twitter who knows Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s father, Titus, told Deadspin that Ronaiah and Manti are close friends. This, along with the fact that Manti Te’o had claimed to have phone calls with this girl, claimed that she died, and claimed that they met at Palo Alto in 2009 when really they had never met at all, leaves anyone reading this story with the conclusion that not only was Ronaiah Tuiasosopo the main culprit in this scandal, but Manti Te’o was in on it. If not, then Manti Te’o was simply very very ignorant and Tuiasosopo is one clever mothrfucker. However, it’s important to consider, as CBS News considers as well, that the love of Manti Te’o and Lennay Kekua was one that the public adored, so the public didn’t ask questions or ask for a follow-up that could’ve exposed the hoax easily. Manti Te’o had motivation to keep playing along with this hoax. Not only would it be embarrassing to admit and come out saying that the girl he thought he was dating was never real at all, but it put him in the spotlight and I’m sure he had the Lombardi Award and Heisman Trophy in his eyes this season with all the publicity he got. Does it make it right? No. But I mean, hey, you can tell that to Lance Armstrong too.
Dennis Brown, Assistant VP and spokesperson for Notre Dame replied to Deadspin with a statement representing the university confirming their knowledge of the hoax and stating that Manti Te’o is the victim of it.
Manti Te’o has also released a statement saying that he “was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies”, going with the stance that Notre Dame has stating that Manti is the victim in the situation.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind creating Lennay Kekua and stalking Diane O’Meara, apologized to Diane over the phone the day the news got out, but she tells CBS News that there is nothing he can do to fix this.
Articles continue to pop up about this story, and CBS News has confirmed that Manti Te’o and his parents will be appearing on Katie Couric, who to he admitted he briefly lied about this whole situation (but also admitting that he had to), on her daytime talk show on ABC.
But until then, we know that Manti Te’o is sticking the story that he didn’t lie until December, when he got a call from a girl claiming that she was Lennay, who up to this point, Manti thought to be dead.
And until then, if you can appreciate the fact that you aren’t in Manti Te’o, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, or Diane O’Meara’s shoes, hopefully you can enjoy the humor in the situation, like David Letterman did on his Top Ten last week:
It doesn’t stop there, check out the progress of Manti Te’o successfully becoming a meme on the internet.
And for all those worrying about getting a date for Valentine’s Day, I wouldn’t suggest pulling a Te’o, put check out what Brazil’s been up to:
If you’re feeling doubtful of your game and actually care about how you look to your friends on Facebook, a Brazilian website is now offering a service in which you can get a girlfriend (hopefully a boyfriend option is coming soon; but for now, sorry, ladies) on Facebook by NamoroFake setting up a fake Facebook account that will be in an official Facebook relationship with you for 7 days (so they’re planning to get a lot of profit around that second week of February) and leave you 10 relationship comments over that time period for 40 US dollars. For only $60 more, they’ll extend that period to a whole month, in which they’ll leave you 30 comments. As far as you guys having pictures together, Google is always there for you to search for a pirated version of Photoshop.
And if the virtual world isn’t for you and your friends are looking to have group dates and you want to join in, there’s always rentafriend.com (you read it right, Rent A Friend):
or crazyblinddate.com, serviced by your good friends at OKCupid. (that one’s fuuuuun.)
And if you want something along the lines of NamoroFake for a cheaper price and a little bit extra, check out the service from GirlfriendHire.com that Salon provides the details on.
As long as you have knowledge of the falsity of the girl and you’re not a football star, you should be good. Godspeed, Manti Te’o.Tweet