LIVE UPDATES: Manti Te’o Gives His First Interview To Jeremy Schaap Since Fake Girlfriend Hoax News Broke

This evening, Manti Te’o opened up to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap in a 2-and-a-half hour off-camera interview. Schaap met Te’o at the IMG Training Academy in Bradenton, Florida where he’s been getting ready for the NFL Draft.

Snippets from the conversation will air on SportsCenter tonight after the Oklahoma City Thunder-Dallas Mavericks game, after midnight.

We’ll be here to cover the breaking news live.

In the meantime, feeling a little behind on the news? Here’s a timeline of every major story about the hoax since news broke on Wednesday.

(Refresh this page for updates)


11:46 – From ESPN Bottom Line: Manti Te’o tells ESPN he was “never” involved in creating the girlfriend hoax. “When they hear the facts, they’ll know. They’ll know that there is no way that I could be part of this.”



11:57 –


12:00 – From ESPN: “Te’o also said that he did not make up anything to help his Heisman Trophy candidacy.”

12:15 – No updates. One minute left in Mavs-Thunder game.

12:23 –

12:26 – If this Dallas-OKC game goes into overtime, we may pass out before we hear any of this interview.

12:28 – Nooooo it’s overtime (105-105). Sigh. Stay tuned.

12:34 – Te’o on Bama game: “When you’re stuck in big game like that people depend on you. You need to perform”

12:38 – Don’t you do it OKC and Dallas. Don’t you send this into double overtime…

12:44 – ESPN just released a few more details. Namely:

Te’o still says he and Kekua never met, but did say he lied to his father about meeting. That’s why his father told reporters about meetings that never took place, says Te’o.

He tried to skype and facetime with Kekua multiple times but all that was on the other end was an empty black box, no face.

Te’o says he and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo never met until after Notre Dame beat USC on November 24th.

12:48 – Schaap is interviewed and says:

Manti Te’o answered every question I posed. He was comprehensive. He went back to the beginning of his story. What happened, what he says happened to him.

He admitted to a couple of mistakes along the way including lying to his father along the way which led to inconsistencies that have been pointed out in the media.

At several points he was asked if he was a part of this. In regards to the Deadspin quote that suggested he was 80% certain a part of this, Te’o replied, “No, never…Never not ever.”

Schaap then asked, “You did a lot of interviews. It was a big story. You describe your relationship in a way that suggested you met her.”

Te’o replied “That goes back to what I did with my dad. I knew that — I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet, and that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away.”

12:50 – Schaap: He suggested to people who interviewed her that he did meet Kekua.

ESPN to Schaap: “How would you describe his demeanor?”

Schaap: Composed, self assured. Portrayed no nervousness. He had a full command of everything that I posed. He seemed very comfortable in the chair.

ESPN: “How did this alleged relationship get started?”

12:49: Schaap: He says it started on Facebook when he was a sophomore at Notre Dame.

A Facebook connection with someone proporting to be Lennay Kekua. And over the course of the next year, there were occasional contacts, how you doing, what’s going on, phone conversations, interestingly, and he showed me documentation in the form of Facebook messages from other people. He contacted other people who had said they also knew her. They said, “Oh yah, Lennay, I know about Lennay.” These were people who were also duped.

He said relationship didn’t really start to grow until the Purdue game in 2011.

Consequently it became a much more intense relationship on April 28 specifically when he found out she had supposedly been injured in this truck crash in Los Angeles that put her in a coma. A cousin of hers and a sibling of hers informed her of the crash. From April 28 until September 12 when he thought she had died, they were inseparable via phone.

12:51– ESPN: When did Te’o realize the woman he considered to be his girlfriend never actually existed?

Schaap: It’s really the most interesting thing here, Jay…. Notre Dame AD said that Manti Te’o found out about this on December 6, and people interpreted that to be the hoax.

What Manti Te’o told me was that after he got this phone call on December 6, and someone says “I’m alive. I’m Lennay, I’m alive.’ He’s utterly confused.

She said she’d been in with drug dealers. And I know this sounds fantastical. But you have to believe me, he was very convincing in the way he laid this out.  That he was not fully convinced that Lennay Kekua did not exist until 2 days ago when he heard from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who was reported to be the person behind this hoax. He called Manti Te’o two days ago and said he was behind the hoax. He apologized, he showed me Twitter messages apparently from Tuiasosopo apologizing for perpertrating this hoax on him, embarrassing him, etc.

1:07 – Clearing up some of the inconsistencies that have been pointed out by the media, he said that he had lied to his father about meeting Kekua in Hawaii around New Years, 2012. He was on his way out of the house one day. This person Lennay Kekua…was supposed to be in Hawaii as well. He went out to what he thought was going to be a meeting with her and told his parents Hey, I’m going to meet Lennay. He showed up, she wasn’t there. He gets home, he doesn’t want to get int a larger discussion about it with his parents who he realizes might think something is strange in this relationship and says, “Yah, I just saw Lennay.”

1:09 – I know this all sounds extraordinary but this is what he said, and this is how it came to be that his father told people that Manti had met, in person, Kekua. After he believed Kekua to be dead, when he was interviewed frequently by ESPN and other entities and he was asked to describe his relationship and what it meant to him, he says when he described her as the “love of his life” he meant it 100% although they never met, although he did mislead people by saying he met her. And he did so because he knew how crazy it would sound to feel so strongly about someone he had never met.

ESPN: How does he feel about the way he’s been portrayed in the media since this story broke?

Schaap: He wanted to get his story out there because he does know what people are saying to some extent. He’s close to his family, he’s an extremely devout person. He and LEnnay, or the person he thought was Lennay, and they came up with this ritual every day to discuss scripture. Some quotation from teh bible on a daily basis. His mother and his father also participated in this, a four-way discussion via text message about scripture. He showed me some of these texts among the four of them. It was just another compelling and I think it’s fair to say convincing element of what he had to say tonight.

ESPN: Why isn’t he on camera during this interview?

Schaap: That’s a good question. Obviously we wanted him to be on camera…but he wanted to do this in a more intimate setting…he wanted to have the discussion in this fashion. He wanted to do it this way and I think it probably made him more comfortable ultimately.

1:11 – ESPN: For those who believe Te’o’s account of what happened, the question that seems to pop out is how could he be so naive.

Schaap: It’s a fair question and when we have a chance to lay out what he said in a more comprehensive fashion it may make more sense to people…He disputed the theory out there that he was completely naive about romantic relationships, he’s had serious girlfriends. He said he had a girlfriend starting this fall after he thought Lennay Kekua had died, but he says he got sucked into this because he thought he was talking to someone who shared a lot in background. She spoke Samoa, even better than he did [showed Schaap texts]…this person drew him in. It really was an intense relationship. Only over the course of several months, not several years as has been reported in several places, but…since she got out of a coma in mid may until September 12, which would be four months.

1:13 – ESPN: What was Te’o’s relationship with Tuiasosopo?

Schaap: He was understood to be a cousin of Lennay Kekua’s. Over the years, they had very intermittent conversations with each other. He was just, I should say, another person in this Lennay Kekua circle of friends, acquaintances, relatives, that lived online. He met Tuiasosopo for the first time and only time when Notre Dame was playing at USC. The meeting was arranged. He thought he would be meeting one of the late Lennay Kekua’s sisters. Instead Tuiasosopo showed up and he showed up at Manti Te’o’s request, with a nine or ten year old girl, Manti says 9 year old girl, who he had come to understand was Lennay Kekua’s cousin. He understood [Lennay] had come to raise this child.

…He brought her to the team hotel. That’s where Te’o’s uncle got a “bad vibe” and assumed Tuiasosopo was lying to him because he said he ran a football camp but it was actually Manti Te’o’s uncle who ran it, so he knew he was being dishonest, but he didn’t feel at that moment that it was his place to tell Manti. But he did tell Manti’s father, Brian.

1:16 – ESPN: What’s next for Te’o?

Schaap: Well, he’s hoping this story simmers down, obviously…He’s hoping this all goes away and that he can get on with his life and get on with the draft.

1:28 – Update from ESPN.com: “A group of people, including a woman claiming to be Lennay, showed up at the team hotel for the Discover BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Te’o said he knew they were at the hotel because the group took photos in the lobby of the hotel. Te’o said it affected his play in the game, where Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14.”

1:34 – Update from ESPN.com: Te’o says he spoke to “Lennay” just after his grandmother died and he was angry, wanting to be left alone. Her last words were “Just know I love you.” He received a phone call later while in the Notre Dame locker room that informed him “Lennay” had passed away.

When asked what he wants to happen to Tuiasosopo, Te’o told ESPN, “I hope he learns. I hope he understands what he’s done. I don’t wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough.”

1:47 – Update from ESPN.com: Te’o was asked by Kekua for his checking account number so that she could “send” him money. He did not comply.

2:00 – Brett McMurphy with another tweet:

2:15 – Deadspin has released an article. To say they’re skeptical on Manti’s account would be an understatement.

2:34 – Update from ESPN.com: Te’o details talking with Kekua when she was in the hospital, and was told by her brother that he her breathing sped up when she talked to Manti.


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Matt is a Co-Founder at College Spun. He can be reached at [email protected]