The efforts to rinse Manti Te’o of the infamous fake dead girlfriend hoax continued the day before his first televised interview, with clips of that confab appearing early Wednesday and spreadsheets purported to represent his phone records bubbling up later in the day.
In samples of his interview with Katie Couric that airs today, Te’o conceded that he perpetuated the storyline of a girlfriend who died of leukemia in September despite receiving a call Dec. 6 from someone claiming to be that girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.
“This girl who I committed myself to died on Sept. 12,” Te’o said in the clip aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive, and then I’m going to be put on national TV two days later, and they ask me about the same question. What would you do?”
Meanwhile, ESPN reported it received spreadsheets allegedly representing Te’o’s phone records from a source it did not name — not the original records themselves — that show Te’o made 500 hours of calls between May and September 2012 to a number with a 661 area code the former Notre Dame linebacker allegedly thought belonged to Kekua.
ESPN said it could not independently verify the information in the spreadsheets.
Te’o said he thought he had a relationship with Kekua and that she died of leukemia on Sept. 12. It has since been revealed that Kekua was a hoax, the product of a scam allegedly run by a 22-year-old California man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Notre Dame and Te’o have maintained the player had no part in the hoax, though Te’o was continuing the dead girlfriend narrative two days after a call that threw the situation into doubt.
Couric — who shares the same spokesman as Te’o — addressed that discrepancy in a clip aired Wednesday.
“You stuck to the script,” Couric said. “And you knew that something was amiss, Manti.”
Te’o replied: “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.”