Manti Te'o tells Katie Couric he briefly lied about girlfriend
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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o admitted to Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend shortly after he learned that she never existed and was part of a hoax against him. Te'o maintained that he was not part of the hoax.
Te'o taped an interview with Couric on Tuesday, portions of which aired Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning, America." In the interview, Te'o says he found out that his online girlfriend Lennay Kekua -- whom he never met but believed was in a car accident and died of leukemia -- was a hoax on Dec. 6. But on Dec. 8 he publicly mentioned his girlfriend when he was being interviewed as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He again discussed her in interviews on Dec. 10.
"Katie, put yourself in my situation," Te'o 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.
"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?"
It was Te'o's first on-camera interview since news of the hoax broke last week. He spoke off camera to ESPN last Friday, an interview in which he gave a similar account of his role in the hoax.
ESPN reported Wednesday that it had documents that could be Te'o's telephone records from May 11 to Sept. 12, the date that the girlfriend was supposed to have died. Te'o made and received more than 1,000 calls totaling more than 500 hours in length from the same number in the 661 area code in California.
Te'o was one of the country's top college players and his inspiring story of performing well in a game after learning of the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother made national headlines. It was true that Te'o's grandmother had died.
Meanwhile, the woman whose photo was used as the "face" of Te'o's supposed girlfriend said the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her. Diane O'Meara told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating Kekua.
Te'o was joined by his parents, Brian and Ottilia, for the interview. "People can speculate about what they think he is," Brian said. "I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid."
The entire interview will air Thursday on Couric's syndicated talk show "Katie," which airs locally on Channel 7 at 3 p.m.