Notre Dame | Sports

Gay Rumor Mill Ramping Up Over Manti Te'o 'Dead Girlfriend' Hoax


Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o won the nation's heart when the "girlfriend" he claimed to have met online died of leukemia. But it was revealed yesterday that said girlfriend never existed and it was all, Te'o claimed, an embarrassing hoax and he fell for it. But then inconsistencies began to appear in his story.

For example, there's the fact that claimed to have met the young woman, "Lennay Kekua," in person in 2009. Even Te'o's father said they had met. "Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there," he said.

But Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said last night Te'o never met her. Swarbrick said it seemed a "group of people" perpetuated this hoax for cruel kicks, and that Te'o was not involved.

But an investigation by the site Deadspin leads to one person in particular, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a former football player who is now a gospel musician who has at the very least met Te'o.

From Deadspin's report:

Te'o and Tuiasosopo definitely know each other. In May 2012, Te'o was retweeting Tuiasosopo, who had mentioned going to Hawaii. Wrote Te'o, "sole"—"bro," in Samoan—"u gotta come down." In June, Te'o wished Tuiasosopo a happy birthday. How they know each other isn't clear.

We spoke to a woman we'll call Frieda, who had suggested on Twitter back in December that there was something fishy about Lennay Kekua. She was Facebook friends with Titus Tuiasosopo, so we asked her if she knew anything about Ronaiah.

"Manti and Ronaiah are family," she said, "or at least family friends." She told us that the Tuiasosopos had been on-field guests (of Te'o or someone else, she didn't know) for the Nov. 24 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles. USC was unable to confirm this, but a tweet from Tuiasosopo's since-deleted account suggests he and Te'o did see each other on that West Coast trip. "Great night with my bro @MTeo_5! #Heisman #574L," Ronaiah tweeted on Nov. 23, the night before the game.

A source also said that Ronaiah may have tried the same trick on someone else before Te'o; Te'o just fell for it. That may be the case, but it's not hard to at least pause at rumors that this was all a big cover up for Te'o being gay.

"...Not since Troy Aikman have I been bombarded on email, text, Twitter and phone calls about the sexual orientation of any athlete the way I was today about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o," writes Cyd Zeigler Jr at OutSports.

If the gay rumors turn out to be true, then perhaps the nation would see how far some people, particularly religious people and athletes, are willing to go because they still fear an unloving world. Opposing Views described such a hypothetical scenario as "the saddest way imaginable" to cover up one's sexuality.

If the gay rumors are not true, and this was just a huge, huge misunderstanding, then maybe this becomes a conversation not about the closet but about the ratio of sports versus academic funding at big schools like Notre Dame.

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  1. well, since he's also a Mormon I think we can rule out that he's a Closeted Homosexual, because being a Mormon means that you're magically immune from every gay a homosexual.

    Being Mormons are magic. And at no point in history has a Mormon ever lied, because lying is a sin.


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 17, 2013 2:43:03 PM

  2. Can I get a flowchart please?

    Posted by: Magpie | Jan 17, 2013 2:47:51 PM

  3. There is nothing about this story that makes any sense whatsoever.

    That is, unless he's in the closet. Then everything falls into place. It's the only explanation that fits, IMHO.

    This is a terrible way for him to be (mostly) outed. And him choosing this moment to stay in the closet and continue the lie will only make it worse for him in the long run. But sadly, I can totally see why he would choose to do so. A Mormon football star at Notre Dame is the trifecta of homophobic environments. It's sad.

    Posted by: Rich | Jan 17, 2013 2:50:13 PM

  4. Notre Dame's answer to Corky St. Clair.

    Posted by: dcinsider | Jan 17, 2013 2:50:50 PM

  5. This says a lot:

    "Think about the reasons you make up a fake girlfriend, then think about which makes more sense: Boredom, Heisman publicity, or throwing people off the scent of a gay man doing the one thing openly gay men still have never done to this day?

    A devout Mormon at a Catholic school, a rugged football player — these are communities that openly reject homosexuality, some of the last remaining vestiges of the decaying closet. There has never been an openly gay athlete in a major American sport, and who knows when that day will come. For now, athletes are pretty freakin’ scared to be the first, even though there could be big endorsement dollars in it for them. Wild speculation, perhaps, but maybe Te’o is just another in a long line of players who would rather live the straight life and not take the risk than declare his true self to the sports world."

    Posted by: Manti4M | Jan 17, 2013 2:51:04 PM

  6. How about we wait and not push him at all. Yes it would be great to have an out player, but this needs to happen organically!

    Posted by: Fensox | Jan 17, 2013 2:52:03 PM

  7. huh? i'm with magpie.

    Posted by: deedrdo | Jan 17, 2013 2:54:04 PM

  8. "A source also said that Ronaiah may have tried the same trick on someone else before Te'o...."

    I'm missing something: What trick did Ronaiah play?

    (Also: never heard of him before but--DAYUM!--Manti is foine.)

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 2:54:48 PM

  9. Occam's razor.

    Posted by: Stefan | Jan 17, 2013 2:55:31 PM

  10. let's not worry about "pushing him" and address the factors that, if he is indeed a closeted homosexual, are ALREADY pushing him to stay in.

    Mormon. in a Catholic School. playing football. with a fake-dead girlfriend. in a still-very-bigoted country and culture.

    he's not being pushed to come out. he's being pushed to stay in.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 17, 2013 2:56:12 PM

  11. @Magpie - LOL'd because I was thinking the same :-)!

    Posted by: Belthazar | Jan 17, 2013 2:56:55 PM

  12. What in the hell did Saomans see in Mormonism? They're so beautiful (thick and juicy). Every nationality of men I think are sexy have been f.cked up by some religion.

    People around the world should have kept their own native religions and not convert to homophobic Islam and Christianity.

    'course it's not that easy to resist converting if you've got a sword or a gun to your head.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 17, 2013 2:58:35 PM

  13. Te'o was being marketed hard for the Heisman. I don't think the gay rumour should be dismissed, but I think the more likely story is that a lie quickly spun out of control, and once that happened, other people became complicit in maintaining the deception.

    Posted by: Nat | Jan 17, 2013 2:58:43 PM

  14. I meant "Somoans". It might help to spell their nationality correctly if I really wanted to get me one.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 17, 2013 2:59:46 PM

  15. This story seems to be taking a strange twist by the minute: "Notre Dame engaged a private company to investigate the situation, with a report provided to the school on January 4."

    Posted by: Belthazar | Jan 17, 2013 3:04:50 PM

  16. LOL, Derrick! "Samoans," hunny. :)

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 3:07:00 PM

  17. Just saw this clip. Definitely gay. And definitely the member of a cult!

    Posted by: Gigi | Jan 17, 2013 3:08:08 PM

  18. And I completely agree abt the deliciousness of the thick and juicy look that they (or at least Manti) have got goin'!

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 3:08:47 PM

  19. Gigi...ahahahahaha...I saw a pair of ruby red slippers fall out of his mouth as soon as he opened it! (I'm so bad, y'all :-)...I know there are feminine str8 men out there, too....)

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 3:12:24 PM

  20. "feminine/soft-spoken," I should've said

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 3:12:58 PM

  21. "If the gay rumors are not true, and this was just a huge, huge misunderstanding, then maybe this becomes a conversation not about the closet but about the ratio of sports versus academic funding at big schools like Notre Dame."


    Just Belonsky mindlessly babbling. As usual.

    Posted by: 24play | Jan 17, 2013 3:13:49 PM

  22. I 1st heard about this story last night and my immediate reaction was that the "dead girlfriend" sounded a lot like "I only date in Europe" stories that closeted celebrities tell.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 17, 2013 3:14:52 PM

  23. 24Play, I was unsure what that meant, guess is that Belonsky's insinuating that this whole may demonstrate how stupid Manti & Manti's family is & why Notre Dame needs to increase its level of academic funding (i.e, in an attempt to cure stupidity)....

    Posted by: redball | Jan 17, 2013 3:18:00 PM

  24. Thank you, Redball. I'm going to type the word "Samoans" one thousands times everyday until I find one. I'll take a native Hawaiian also. I can spell

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 17, 2013 3:18:59 PM

  25. Frankly, I think he is more asexual, if anything. shy and timid but needing to put up a big front in the locker room. Sure, he could be gay. Alas, many Samoans I know can get beefy for football (and then get really, really fat after BYU and others use them); however, that size doesn't translate everywhere. Some of them mask their inadequacies with religion.

    And mormons have been siphoning off the Catholic formula for several decades now, targeting islanders (not just Samoans) and south americans, converting many and (just like evangelicals) swaying them with the promise of coming to the US. Frankly, when BYU realized they can make good football players it opened the door for them to declare that people other than white folks can be members in the church (and eventually enter the temple). later, they finally let african-americans in (and later, allowed them to lead prayer, etc.). Thank BYU football for all of that.

    Posted by: William | Jan 17, 2013 3:22:42 PM

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