New Netflix doc details Manti Te'o and the fake girlfriend hoax

·2-min read

Remember Manti Te'o? The former Notre Dame linebacker who was the victim of a wild catfishing hoax in 2013? Well, his story will be featured in Netflix's documentary series, "The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist."

The two-part show will detail one of the craziest moments in college football history. Three months after Te'o told the media his girlfriend, a Stanford student named Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia, a story from Deadspin found that Kekua was actually a creation of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of Te'o's who now goes by Naya Tuiasosopo as a transgender woman.

Te'o had dedicated his senior season at Notre Dame to Kekua and his grandmother after finding out both died on the same night. Obviously, only his grandmother really died, but Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil weeks after the story broke that he decided to "kill" Kekua on the same night after he and Te'o got into an argument. Tuiasosopo also admitted in the interview with Dr. Phil that he was in love with Te'o.

When the Deadspin story landed, it kickstarted a news cycle that included a deep dive into Te'o's "relationship" with Kekua.

Notre Dame hired private investigators to dig into the catfishing hoax that determined Te'o only had an online relationship with the fake girlfriend despite Te'o and his family originally claiming they had met in person. Te'o denied being a part of the hoax in a 2013 interview with ESPN and admitted he lied to his father about actually meeting Kekua in person.

"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 girl who died, I was so invested in, I didn't meet her, as well," Te'o said in 2013. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away, so that people wouldn't think that I was some crazy dude."

The hoax hung like a dark cloud over Te'o during what looked like an incredible senior season. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist that season and was pegged as a first-round NFL draft prospect for 2013. Te'o finished his senior year with 113 tackles and seven interceptions but lost the 2012 Heisman to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Te'o enjoyed a solid eight-year career in the NFL after being picked 38th overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2013 where he tallied 307 combined tackles in 62 games.

The documentary drops on August 16.

Manti Te'o was a part of one of the wildest stories in sports history. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Manti Te'o was a part of one of the wildest stories in sports history. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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