Footballer's tale of tragic girlfriend was a hoax
IT was a heartwarming story which captured the US: that of a star American college football player who led his team to the national championships, fuelled by the memory of his 22-year-old girlfriend, who had lost her battle with leukemia.
Except that the entire tragic tale was a hoax. The girlfriend of Manti Te'o (21, right), a linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, had never actually existed.
The revelation, made by the sports website Deadspin, has caused shockwaves across a country where college football has almost religious status and is arguably more popular that its professional counterpart, the NFL.
Te'o who had spoken about his girlfriend many times in the media, claimed to be shocked too. He said he was a victim of the hoax, and genuinely believed that the girl, Lennay Kekua, was a real person with whom he had a relationship.
But others have questioned whether Te'o himself was involved in the hoax, perhaps in an attempt to gain sympathy and further his bid for the Heisman Trophy, the prestigious football award in which he ultimately finished runner up. (© Daily Telegraph, London)