Manti Te’o finally talked, although it was off-camera and just to ESPN.
Te’o talked to ESPN reporter Jeremy Schapp on Friday about his relationship hoax with fake online persona Lennay Kekua.
In the 2.5-hour interview at the IMG Training Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Te’o denied any involvement in perpetuating the hoax, though he admitted that he lied to his father about meeting Kekua, which prompted Brian Te’o to tell reporters that the two had met. He also admitted to “catering” his stories so people would think that they met.
“I knew that — I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet,” he told ESPN. “And that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well.”
Te’o told ESPN that he wasn’t entirely sure that Kekua didn’t exist until Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Kekua persona, called two days ago to come clean.
Te’o also told Schaap that he tried to Facebook and Skype with Kekua on several occasions but never saw anyone on the other end. Instead, Te’o saw what he described as a “black box” on the screen.