Mastermind Behind Manti Te’o Hoax Reveals All To Dr. Phil
STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — The 22-year-old Palmdale man who pretended to be Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend for several years talked about his love for the Notre Dame football star in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Dr. Phil McGraw Thursday.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told the TV doctor that the first time he came into contact with the linebacker was when he created a fictional Facebook profile for “Lennay Kekua” and friended many people, including Te’o’s cousin.
The hoaxer said the love affair began when Te’o also friended “Kekua.”
“Were you in love with him?” McGraw asked.
“As twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah,” Tuiasosopo responded.
Tuiasosopo said he was close to telling Te’o his true identity when the pair met face-to-face last November at a Notre Dame/USC football game.
“I wanted to tell him everything right then and there. That’s the truth. But shortly after, his uncle and his uncle’s friends and other family all came in and I was like, it’s not the right time,” he said.
The 22-year-old revealed to McGraw that he broke off the relationship between “Kekua” and Te’o several times, but the two always got back together.
The final straw?
Tuiasosopo thought Te’o was cheating on him with women.
“I was crying that morning. I was hurt emotionally. All kinds of things took over. Right then and there, I made the decision that I can’t do this ‘Lennay’ thing anymore and I ended it,” he said.
Part two of the emotional Dr. Phil interview with Tuiasosopo airs 3 p.m. Friday on CBS2.