(NEW YORK) — Manti Te’o admitted in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Katie Couric that he briefly lied to the press and the public after discovering his online girlfriend did not exist and was a part of an elaborate hoax.
The star Notre Dame linebacker, who has been hounded by reporters since the story broke on Jan. 16, told Couric in a taped interview Tuesday that up until December he was not lying. Te’o said that was duped into believing his online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of cancer.
“You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti,” Couric said.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation. 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,” Te’o said.
Te’o said he received a phone call on Dec. 6 from a woman claiming she was Kekua, even though Kekua had allegedly passed away three months earlier.
“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?” Te’o said.
Te’o was joined by his parents, Brian and Ottilia, in the interview.
“Now many people writing about this are calling your son a liar. They are saying he manipulated the truth, really for personal gain,” Couric said to Te’o’s father.
“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,” Brian Te’o said with tears in his eyes.
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