Couric plays Te'o voicemails
TribLIVE Sports Videos
NEW YORK — The person Manti Te'o said 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. He 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.
According to a report by the New York Daily News, Te'o was on the other line with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, during every phone call. Tuiasosopo's lawyer, Milton Grimes, said the scam mastermind had Te'o believing “it was a female he was talking with.”
Couric's 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 unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.
Couric addressed speculation the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he was 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.
In the second voicemail, the person was apparently upset by someone else answering Te'o's phone.
The third voicemail was left Sept. 11, Te'o said, the day he believed Kekua was released from the hospital and the day before she “died.”
“Hey babe, I'm just calling to say goodnight,” the person on the voicemail said. “I love you. I know that you're probably doing homework, or you're with the boys. ... But I just wanted to say I love you and goodnight, and I'll be OK tonight. I'll do my best. Um, yeah, so get your rest, and I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hon. Sweet dreams.”
Couric suggested the person who left those messages might have been Tuisasosopo.
“Do you think that could have been a man on the other end of the phone?” she asked.
“Well, it didn't sound like a man,” Te'o said. “It sounded like a woman. If he somehow made that voice, that's incredible. That's an incredible talent to do that — especially every single day.”
Diane O'Meara, who was unknowingly the face of Kekua, said Tuiasosopo confessed to 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 said Tuiasosopo confessed in a 45-minute phone call Jan. 14 that he'd “stalked” her Facebook profile for five years and stolen photos to create Kekua.
The 23-year-old O'Meara, of Long Beach, said when Tuiasosopo sent her a Facebook message Dec. 16, it was the first time he'd contacted her since high school.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers QB Roethlisberger not targeting Oct. 25 return
- Rossi: Time for Pirates to take next step
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not worried about Jones’ lack of sacks
- Penguins rally in wake of Dupuis injury
- New Florence assistant fire chief charged with having sex with juvenile
- Cubs’ Arrieta, Pirates’ Cole leave batters with little margin for error
- How the Pirates put together another postseason contender
- Wolf still seeking to raise income tax, impose tax on shale-gas drilling
- Same cast, improved results for Pitt defense
- Fleury’s demeanor helps keep Penguins loose, him playing his best
- Fans connect with their beloved Pirates through homemade signs