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Manti Te'o SPEAKS

I Knew It Was Crazy ... But

I'm Innocent

1/19/2013 9:33 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news



0119_manti_teo_apManti Te'o
has broken his silence ... admitting he knew having a relationship with a "girlfriend" solely online was "crazy," insisting he was a victim, and revealing that the culprit has now apologized.
 
Manti gave an audio interview to ESPN -- the photo was taken in the middle of the chat -- in which he acknowledges Ronaiah Tuiasosopo tweeted him a full confession two days ago. You gotta love it ... even the confession was online. ESPN says it was followed up by a phone call.

Manti says, "I wasn't faking it. I wasn't part of this."

Manti says he now knows -- presumably from Tuiasosopo -- "Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing." He says he doesn't know the identity of the second guy or the girl. He adds he didn't know for sure until Wednesday that it was all a hoax, when Tuiasosopo admitted it to him.

Manti explained why he lied to his dad and others, when he said or intimated he had seen the fictitious Lennay Kekua in the flesh. "I knew that -- I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone people find out that this gir who died I was so invested in, and I didn't meet her as well ... So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away so people wouldn't think I was some crazy dude."

As for one of the big questions -- why didn't he at least Skype -- he says he tried to speak with Lennay through Skype or FaceTime several times, but the person on the other end was in a "black box" and couldn't be seen. He says he also tried meeting her a few times in L.A. and Hawaii, but she kept canceling. 

And this is a little weird ... Manti says Lennay once asked him for his checking account number so she could send him money. He did not provide it. Still, no suspicion.

Manti says the fictitious relationship was not a full four years -- they would take breaks, but it got intense after she said her father had died.

He says things got crazy after Lennay's fake car accident when she was in the hospital, and he could only hear her breathing over the phone -- "I slept on the phone with her every night ...the only thing that could help her sleep was if I was on the phone." 

As for why he didn't visit her in the hospital, he says, "It never really crossed my mind.  I don't know. I was in school."

As for why he didn't attend her "funeral," he says, "Her mom told them [Lennay's family] they did not want me to come," adding, "I didn't want that to be the first time that I saw her was laying in a coffin."

Manti says on December 6 -- three months after Lennay had supposedly died --  a woman called from the number Lennay had used, saying, "Manti, it's me." He says that was the first time it was apparent to him -- he had been scammed. 

Manti says he doesn't hold a grudge -- "I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns.  I think embarrassment is big enough."

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192 COMMENTS

No Avatar
46.

dee    

lies, lies and more lies...This guy is full of it.

579 days ago
47.

BB not bb    

This could happen to anyone. There are scam internet centers operating out of *****ia and sometimes Russia. Sometimes they are operated out of internet cafes where the user is anonymous. They make tons of money like this, scamming poor fools who think they found the love of their life on a dating site.

579 days ago
48.

charles    

whatever your opinion, this article is bringing up some of the best comments of the year so far.

579 days ago
49.

lol    

I don't think he's lying. This type of thing is common, and was even more common in the 90s. If you watch the mtv show "catfish" you'll see that many people fall for the fakes. You go on a dating site, you see someone's pictures and interests...and you talk to them, become invested, and then they make excuses for not meeting. At that point, some people will walk away, but many do not. They keep talking hoping something will happen because they've already invested time into getting to know this person.

579 days ago
50.

Jennyfrenzy     

Dear TMZ, This is not sportscenter. More Ryan Gosling, Ian Somerhalder and the likes. Less sports and Kardashian news please and thank you.

579 days ago
51.

Jordan    

How come the one component of this lie that Manti can not explain is he and his father in interviews said that the fake girlfriend used to visit the family in Hawaii.

579 days ago
52.

TLM    

I can bet he is not lying. I know someone who went thru same thing...these people are not dumb, they have intimacy issues

579 days ago
53.

Cujeaux    

I can't wait for this mook to play in the NFL. There will be a big 'ransom' for him.

At what point is he going to get representation? I can hear the sound of millions of dollars in contract money being flushed away with his every word.

ND should have hung him out to dry instead of thinking people will be dumb enough to give him any more sympathy. They must have been in on it too.
"Manti can't trust anyone again... WAAAH!" I don't give a F!

579 days ago
54.

Gargamel    

Who cares anymore? I wish this idiot and this story just go away.

579 days ago
55.

Lee    

Definitely has all it takes to be a politician. So selfless that he lied to protect his team?? What a crock that is and what a douche bag he is!!!

579 days ago
56.

bernergirl    

What about the money raised for Lukemia???

579 days ago
57.

Yariman    

omg I can't believe I'm going to say this... But will the Kardashians or Hilton or Lohan PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD do something so this story about some nobody doing nothing stops being all TMZ reports about?

579 days ago
58.

Nonsense    

Does anyone else think this guy is just plain creepy?

579 days ago
59.

Laura    

If he's innocent, maybe he could do an interview with his girlfriend's family, as in one of his interviews he said how much they helped him deal with her death. Let's all meet these people that helped him so much. If they were part of the hoax, then here's his chance to expose them.

579 days ago
60.

rico    

Back in the closet with TimTebow.

579 days ago
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