Not that it should work to excuse him from the "dead girlfriend" scam that he worked on Notre Dame linebacker Monti Te'o, but Ronaiah Tuisosopo, in an excerpt of his two-part interview with Dr. Phil, said he fell in love with Manti Te'o during the hoax, and that he thinks he's gay, though he's not really sure. Portions of the interview were shown on "Today" on Wednesday (embedded).
Not only that, Tuisosopo said that over the time of the scam, not only did her perform the voice of Lennay Kekua, he fell in love with Te'o. Dr. Phil McGraw told NBC’s Mike Taibbi in the segment that aired:
Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love. I asked him straight up, "Was this a romantic relationship with you?" And he says yes. I said, "Are you then therefore gay?" And he said, "When you put it that way, yes." And then he caught himself and said, "I am confused."
The full two-part interview will air Thursday and Friday on the “Dr. Phil’’ show. In it, Tuiasosopo, 22, said that Te’o was an innocent victim in the hoax. Lennay Kekua was nothing except a fictitious person, but her supposed death from leukemia on Sept. 12 -- the same day Te'o's grandmother died -- made national headlines as Te'o played an incredible game against Michigan State just a few days later.
Her death and Te'o's performance were turned into a huge story around Te’o during Notre Dame’s undefeated regular season and his race to the finals of the Heisman Trophy.
Reportedly, Te'o learned of the hoax in early December, but did not reveal it to anyone but Notre Dame administrators, on Dec. 26. The hoax went national after being exposed by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.
Tuiasosopo said he thought, many times, of ending it sooner than he did. Kekua and Te'o were together, off and on, for four years.
I wanted to end it because after everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life. I had to start just living and let this go. There were many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up, but something would bring them back together whether it was something going on in his life or in Lennay’s life, or in this case, my life.
Tuiasosopo created a fake social media profile using photos taken -- without her knowledge -- from the Facebook page of former high school classmate Diane O’Meara, 23, a marketing executive from Los Angeles. O'Meara said earlier that she although she went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, they're not close.
He also insisted -- despite speculation otherwise -- that the telephone voice of Kekua in voicemails and conversations with Te’o was his own.
In conclusion, and perhaps putting to rest rumors that Te'o was involved in the hoax as a way to promote his Heisman Trophy candidacy, McGraw told Taibbi that, after speaking with Tuiasosopo, he believes that Te’o “absolutely, unequivocally’’ was not involved in the hoax in any way.