Katie Couric put Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the hot seat this week, grilling him on the elaborate hoax involving his fake dead girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, and whether or not he lied to the press for sympathy.The football player has been in the spotlight since Jan. 16, when Deadspin.com broke the story that Kekua never existed. Manti has denied orchestrating the hoax with friends in order to gain sympathy.
In the interview set to air on Jan. 24, Te’o says he was the victim of a prankster and that he only lied to the press briefly, after he learned he’d been duped.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation,” he said. “I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12.”
He continued, "Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later, and to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"
Manti’s parents also weighed in on the scandal. His father Brian told Katie, "People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid.”
As the story unfolds, one name keeps popping up; Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Te’o told ESPN that Ronaiah called him when the media frenzy started and allegedly revealed that two guys and a girl were responsible, but didn't name names.
Diane O’Meara, whose photos were used in the prank without her knowledge, told the “Today” show that she also received a call from Tuiasosopo, an old high school classmate, the same day. He supposedly apologized for involving her in the incident.
So far, Ronaiah has not spoken publicly about the scandal.