The person Manti Te’o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker “I love you” in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.
Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te’o claims were left for him last year. Te’o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.
After the first message was played, Te’o said: “It sounds like a girl, doesn’t it?”
“It does,” Couric responded.
The interview was the All-American’s first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.
Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te’o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te’o said “no” with a laugh. “Far from it. Faaaar from that.”
The first voicemail, he said, was from what was supposed to be Kekua’s first day of chemotherapy for leukemia.
“Hi, I am just letting you know I got here and I’m getting ready for my first session and, um, just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you. I love you. Bye,” the person said.
Couric suggested he person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, who Te’o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.
The woman who was unknowingly the face of Kekua said the man who concocted the hoax confessed to her and said he wanted to end the ruse that snared Te’o many times before it unraveled.
Diane O’Meara is the woman whose pictures were used to make an online profile of Kekua, the fake person who Te’o said he fell without meeting in person. O’Meara said Tuiasosopo told her that he created the hoax and wanted to end it before Kekua “died” in September, but Te’o wanted the relationship with Kekua to continue.
O’Meara spoke with The Associated Press by phone on Thursday.