On Jan. 16, Deadspin reported that the story of Te'o's girlfriend Lennay Kekua dying of Leukemia had been a hoax. As the shocking story spread, speculation and commentary ran rampant on Twitter, as its users wanted more answers from Te'o.
Notre Dame responded the same day with a statement that Te'o had indeed been the victim of a hoax, and that he had alerted the school on Dec. 26 of the incident. According to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, an interview with Schaap was originally set to take place on Jan. 17 but was later scrapped.
With Te'o revealing more of his side of the story to Schaap, Twitter blew up with responses to the linebacker's off-camera interview.
Associated Press reported that Te'o said he was not involved in the hoax.
BREAKING: Manti Te'o tells ESPN "there is no way I could be part of" dead girlfriend hoax. #NotreDame— AP_Top25 (@AP_Top25) January 19, 2013
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch speculated that Teo's team had dictated the parameters for the interview.
@richsandomir Clearly, the Te'o camp dictated terms but I would have taken the interview if I was Doria and posse.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) January 19, 2013
Inquiring minds like Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network waiting to hear what Te'o had to say were frustrated by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Maverick's overtime thriller. ESPN waited to reveal the details of the interview until the game was over.
Due to this overtime period, I'm probably going to fall asleep while listening to Manti Te'o. #irony— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 19, 2013
Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported that Te'o claimed that the hoax did affect his play in the national championship game. Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14.
Te’o not involved w/hoax, but it affected play vs. Bama. “When you're stuck in big game like that people depend on you. You need to perform"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 19, 2013
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated touched on a question that was on everyone's mind: why Te'o wouldn't at least Skype with Kekua. He also pointed out one of the better pieces of evidence that Te'o wasn't involved—he wasn't entirely convinced Kekua didn't exist until Jan. 16.
Te'o told ESPN he tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime, but person at other end of the line was in a "black box" and wasn't seen— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 19, 2013
WHOA. Schaap: Te'o was not fully convinced the girl didn't exist until TWO DAYS AGO, when Tuiasasopo called and apologized.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 19, 2013
Brian Hamilton reported that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo called Te'o two days before the interview to apologize for the hoax.
Manti Te'o told ESPN Ronaiah Tuiasosopo called two days ago to apologize for executing Lennay Kekua hoax on him.— Brian Hamilton (@ChiTribHamilton) January 19, 2013
For those still skeptical of Te'o's story, Bryan Fischer brought up a good point:
ND thought Te’o was going to address the story on Monday. According to Te’o’s timeline, he still thought the girl was real then…
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) January 19, 2013
Even NBA star LeBron James got involved in the Te'o reaction. He chipped in a sentiment we can all agree on—this is an odd and bizarre story.
Man I don't know all the facts or exactly what is going on but this Te'o story is bizarre and weird as hell!! #whodoyoubelieve— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 19, 2013
With the NFL draft right around the corner, Te'o is likely about to have a lot of money come him. As National Post sports columnist Bruce Arthur pointed out, Te'o could very well be the target of many a scam in the future.
If that's true, Manti Te'o will be a target for scams for the rest of his life.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) January 19, 2013
NFL Network's Warren Sapp is still skeptical about Te'o's side of the story.
Manti said she was the most beautiful person he ever meet— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) January 19, 2013
Te'o related that he just wants the story to simmer down. Does Stewart Mandel think that will happen? Nope.
Schaap: Te'o "hoping this story simmers down … he's hoping it goes away and he can get on with his life." (Nope.)
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 19, 2013
According to Richard Deitsch, Te'o had a girlfriend after the "passing" of Kekua.
Schaap said Te'o told him he had a girlfriend this fall after Lennay Kekua died. If so, she'll be interviewed soon enough.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) January 19, 2013
This Te'o story is the most fascinating, most covered story that ultimately doesn't matter a lick, ever.— Chris Jones (@MySecondEmpire) January 19, 2013
Adam Kramer of the Kegs 'n Eggs blog shed light on the whole situation from Heisman winner Johnny Manziel's perspective. Probably.
"Guys, stop. Te'o's side is on TV," Johnny Manziel said before he parachuted out of a plane while drinking Absinthe— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) January 19, 2013
Count senior investigative reporter for Yahoo! Sports Charles Robinson among those still dubious of Te'o's story.
When Te'o & family tell Notre Dame he was duped on Dec. 26 & their investigator verifies it, he's still uncertain in mid January? It's odd.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 19, 2013
Bomani Jones compared this crazy story to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tanya Harding scandal in 1994 and yes, this story is still more bizarre.
kerrigan/harding, while disturbing, made sense. te'o'gate is positively insane.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) January 19, 2013