Manti Te'o saga reached House floor

The utterly confusing saga of college football star Manti Te’o’s apparently fictional girlfriend has made its way to Congress — the not-really-dead-because-she-wasn’t-really-alive woman was mentioned on the House floor as recently as a month ago.

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In December, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) heaped praise on Te’o, a star University of Notre Dame player, saying, “Manti is someone who has trained so hard with his parents solidly by his side to play football well. ... But many may not know that he may not have played his senior year because he lost his girlfriend and grandmother within four days of each other.”

“He did play because he promised his girlfriend that he would,” the congresswoman continued.

Deadspin reported Wednesday that Lennay Kekua, whom Te’o had identified in multiple interviews as a girlfriend who died of cancer within days of his grandmother last year, was actually a hoax.

In a statement, Notre Dame claimed its linebacker was the victim of a calculated prank.

“On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia.” The university said it was investigating the incident.

Te’o also released a statement Wednesday night, saying, “This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online.”

The 21-year-old pigskin player and Hawaii native, who is expected to be drafted into the National Football League, said, “To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."

During her December remarks, Hanabusa said, “Manti, you have made many of us all proud, especially those of us from Hawaii. And to you and your teammates from Hawaii, Robby Toma and Kona Schwenke, we say, go fighting Irish! Mahalo and aloha.”

Hanabusa’s office did not return ITK’s request for comment.



White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that he found "fascinating" the Deadspin report revealing Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend to be a hoax.


Carney said he had read the report Wednesday night, but had not mentioned it to Obama in the interim.