Notre Dame Star: Victim of ‘Sick Joke’

It turns out Notre Dame lineback Manti Te’o’s girlfriend—a widely reported source for inspiration after she tragically died of leukemia during the season—does not exist. Deadspin broke the story Wednesday, revealing that Lennay Kekua, who allegedly spoke to the football player every night on the phone (and tweeted with him regularly), was completely made up. Te’o, whose second-place finish in Heisman voting was buoyed by the story of overcoming the loss of his fake girlfriend, said in a statement that he was the target of a “sick joke” that was “painful and humiliating.” Notre Dame said that it was a “hoax” that appears to be perpetrated by several people. Apparently Te’o and the university were aware of the fictitious story during the BCS game a few weeks ago. Notre Dame’s athletic director said Te’o was going to come forward about the situation next week, given “online chatter.”