More Manti: 7 Recent Revelations in the Te’o-Kekua Fiasco

Here are Friday's most significant developments in the saga of the star Notre Dame linebacker and his apparently fictitious girlfriend.

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s now been nearly 48 hours since Deadspin broke the story of Manti Te’o and Lennay Kekua, and there’s little question that you’re all too familiar with the tale of the star Notre Dame linebacker and his apparently fictitious girlfriend. Though solid answers and logical explanations are few and far between, each passing hour seemingly brings with it a new revelation in the Catfish-esque saga. Here are the seven most significant developments from Friday:

The New York Post Outed Deadspin’s Unnamed Source. Deadspin’s original report protected the identity of the woman whose Facebook photographs were used as Kekua’s Twitter avatars, only saying that she was a 22-year-old California woman and giving her the pseudonym “Reba”. But that anonymity only lasted until early Friday morning, when the Post, among other sources, reported that the woman in question was Diane O’Meara of Los Angeles. According to Deadspin, O’Meara was a high school classmate of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged creator of the Lennay Kekua persona.

A Friend Said Ronaiah Tuiasosopo Confessed to the Hoax. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported on Friday morning that a friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo—described only as a woman in her mid-20s—says the 22-year-old former high school football player confessed to her in early December that he was being the Lennay Kekua hoax. The friend said that a deeply remorseful Tuiasosopo called Te’o a victim—and added that the Heisman Trophy runner-up was not the first to be fooled by his online persona. Before Manti Te’o, “Outside the Lines” reported, “Lennay Kekua” had apparently been in an online relationship with another man —  and that any time an in-person meeting was planned, Tuiasosopo would show up instead. The man’s cousins, California residents J.R. Vaosa and Celeste Tuioti-Mariner, joked about the Lennay Kekua character on Twitter late last year after reports of her alleged death surfaced.

Manti Te’o’s Uncle Called Tuiasasopo a Liar. In a lengthy interview on Thursday night with the radio station 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City, Alema Teo defended his nephew’s innocence and claimed Tuiasosopo was the mastermind behind the elaborate hoax. The elder Te’o stated his belief that Tuiasosopo began the hoax—and a friendship with the Notre Dame football star—for notoriety and perhaps even money.

Te’o’s Representatives Passed Up Their Chance to Come Clean. According to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports, there was substantial internal debate amongst Notre Dame administrators about whether to break the news themselves, but it was ultimately determined that the decision would be left to Te’o and his representatives at the Creative Artists Agency. Forde’s source says Tom Condon—one of Te’o’s reps at CAA—told University officials they planned to make an announcement on Monday, two days before the Deadspin story, but never did. Te’o has not commented on the hoax since he issued a statement on Wednesday evening in response to the Deadspin story.

Did Tuiasosopo audition for NBC’s The Voice? According to an US Weekly report, yes. The initial Deadspin story discussed the former high school football star’s passion for music, noting that Tuiasosopo had posted several of his own songs on YouTube. (Manti Te’o mentioned one of those songs on Twitter in December 2011.) US Weekly’s source claims that Tuiasosopo told the show’s producers about a harrowing car accident—not entirely unlike the one that Lennay Kekua had allegedly suffered:

According to the source, Tuiasosopo told producers he and his cousins started a Christian band together and were on their way to perform at a youth conference in Nevada when they got into a “massive” car accident. He claimed a truck crashed into their vehicle, sending them flip-flopping all over the freeway. He also said doctors thought one of them might have been brain-dead, but miraculously, everyone was fine. (US Weekly)

In spite of Tuiasosopo’s remarkable tale, judges were not wildly impressed with his singing and he was not chosen as a contestant.

Sports Illustrated Releases Transcript of Te’o Interview. SI senior writer Pete Thamel interviewed Te’o for his cover story “The Full Manti” on Sept 23. (Sports Illustrated, like TIME, is owned by Time Warner.) The interview sheds some light on the alleged timing of events in Kekua’s life, and on the aspects of the hoax that made it into Thamel’s cover story. But at no point during the course of the interview does Te’o mention any in-person meeting between him and Kekua. (Sports Illustrated was just one of many outlets that reported Te’o’s girlfriend as  real before the Deadspin exposé; TIME ran its own story as well.)

Te’o Reportedly Began an In-Person Relationship with Another Woman after Kekua’s Alleged Death. According to TMZ, Te’o began dating Alexandra de Pilar, a 21-year-old student at St. Mary’s College in Indiana, sometime after the pair met in mid-November of last year. The gossip blog also reported that the two dated for two months but broke up recently.

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