Manti’s girlfriend is ‘alive,’ except it’s not ‘Lennay Kekua.’ The photos used to depict the University Of Notre Dame player’s fictitious girlfriend are revealed to be of a 23-year-old California marketing executive named Diane O’Meara, who is said to be ‘horrified’ that her pictures were used in this hoax.
Manti Te’o's fake dead girlfriend was revealed to be a very alive California marketing exec on Jan. 17. Diane O’Meara, 23, found herself at the center of the girlfriend hoax scandal when her photo was taken from her Facebook account and used to depict “Lennay Kekua,’’ Te’o’s fictional girlfriend.
“Somebody stole her identity,” a relative of Diane’s, Olga Volkov, told The New York Post. “[O’Meara’s family] found out about it yesterday. They were shocked,” Olga said, noting that Diane is “a good person” from “a very good family.”
Diane went to high school with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who is a friend of Manti and the supposed mastermind behind the girlfriend hoax.
The Girlfriend Hoax
Manti revealed that his 72-year-old grandmother died in early September 2012, while his “girlfriend” Lennay supposedly died just one day later of leukemia. During his very next football game, Manti had a record 12 tackles, helping lead his time to an inspiring 20-3 win.
However, as Deadspin has revealed after thorough investigation, there was no record of Lennay’s death anywhere, and the photos that had been identified as the young woman were actually those of a 23-year-old from California who had never met the football player.
Manti Te’o’s Statement
Manti issued a statement on Jan. 16, claiming he had been the victim of a “sick joke.” He said:
“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. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.”
— Chris Rogers
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