Friday evening Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o broke his silence in an interview with ESPN regarding the catfish style girlfriend hoax that had been perpetrated during the past several months. Te’o denied having any involvement in the hoax.
The story began four years ago when Manti Te’o received a friend request from a young lady supposedly named Lennay Kekua on Facebook. During the time they were in contact, Te’o rode an emotional roller coaster hearing of Lennay being hospitalized due to a car accident, and later being diagnosed with and dying from leukemia.
Though Manti Te’o tried to Skype and Facetime with Lennay on multiple occasions, his attempts failed. Te’o also made plans to meet with her in person several times, but each time the meeting was called off by Kekua or she sent others in her place.
To some this may seem a story of outrageously unbelievable proportion, but those who are familiar with MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show” are well aware this sort of hoax has been a very common occurrence in today’s world.
“Catfish: The TV Show” is drawn from the story of Nev Schulman who had a similar experience to Manti Te’o’s, falling in love online with a young lady who turned out to be someone completely different that who she claimed. Nev starred in a documentary movie about his plight which led to him receiving an influx of emails from others who had comparable stories, thus leading to his current show, “Catfish: The TV Show.”
Every week Nev meets with individuals who have fallen in love online, but have only pictures of the object of their affection, with repeated attempts to meet or Skype falling through. Much like Manti Te’o’s girlfriend Lennay Kekua, they almost all turn out to be some sort of hoax.
Why do people do this? Some are lonely and looking for attention, but others are more malicious. One episode of “Catfish: The TV Show” led to the discovery a young lady pretending to be a new love interest for another young lady to keep her away from a guy they both had interest in. Manti Te’o is an extremely successful individual, and it may be that those who perpetrated the hoax on him were jealous of all he had.
Some have questioned whether Manti Te’o was in on the hoax, but it is difficult to fathom what benefit Te’o would have in making himself look a fool. If people were aware how common this new phenomena of “catfishing” has become, perhaps they would realize that Manti Te’o is just one of many who have fallen victim to it.