Timeline of Manti Te'o Girlfriend Hoax Story

The full timeline of events begins in 2008.

January 21, 2013, 3:11 AM

Jan. 21, 2013— -- This timeline of the Manti Te'o hoax appears to begin when Tessi Toluta'u, a Polynesian beauty queen, says she was contacted by "Lennay Kekua" in 2008 in what she now believes was a "catfish" scam.

Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker, began his online relationship with "Kekua" sometime in 2009. But he wasn't the first person to be contacted online by the fictitious woman.


A person named "Lennay Kekua" sends a Facebook message to Tessi Toluta'u, a Polynesian beauty queen, requesting advice on entering beauty pageants, Toluta'u told ABC News.

Middle of 2008: Toluta'u says she continued to exchange Facebook messages with Kekua. Toluta'u believes Kekua is embellishing her story, saying, "she" is a Stanford volleyball player who is dating then-USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Who's Who in Manti Te'o Hoax


Manti Te'o tells ESPN,

Kekua befriends Te'o on Facebook in the winter of his freshman year in Notre Dame, he tells ESPN. He messages her back saying, "I'm Manti." At this point they would begin an on-again, off-again relationship that would resume later with texts and phone calls

SEPT. 27, 2010

Te'o writes Toluta'u, a family friend, Facebook message asking about Kekua, writing, "She keeps talking like she knows everyone and I'm like thinking it's a prank," according to his Facebook messages.

Toluta'u responds on Facebook: "So many people are asking about her. Is she causing drama?"

APRIL 20, 2010

Somehow Te'o is convinced of her authenticity and he tells ESPN communications from this day on between himself and Kekua occur solely by phone.

JUNE 2011

During a charity trip organized by Polynesian athletes, Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia meets a leggy beauty named "Lennay Kekua" in American Samoa doing charity work, Mauia tells ESPN.com.

"This was before her and Manti," he says. Mauia says they became good friends and they would check in on each other. She also described the loss of her father to him. Mauia says Kekua had "Volleyball type physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful, with long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model."

He says he was introduced by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

OCT. 1, 2011

Te'o tells ESPN that during his junior year he received a phone call from Kekua the day of the game against Purdue. He says Kekua told him that she was having hard times with her boyfriend and that she wanted Te'o to be there for her. Te'o says from this point on their relationship intensified. At some point during these initial interactions Te'o hears about Tuiasosopo in passing. Kekua says it was her cousin and that they were like "Bonnie and Clyde." But she didn't talk about him much.

MARCH 23, 2012

Facebook postings reveal Tuiasosopo was in a car accident with two other relatives, according to USA Today.

APRIL 2012

Te'o plans to fly to San Diego and later visit Kekua in Los Angeles where she says she took over her father's business called Clarke's Construction, the football player told ESPN.

APRIL 28, 2012

Te'o gets a call from Kekua's brother, Noa, saying she had been in a car accident and was hit by a drunk driver and that she was in a hospital in Los Angeles, he told ESPN.

Te'o's friend John Pepelnjak tells ESPN.com, "Back in late April or early May, I want to say within the first couple days following the supposed car crash, I can testify with 100 percent certainty that [Te'o] spoke on the phone with Kekua's brother and that he did not create this hoax."

Manti Te'o Hoax Timeline

JUNE 2012

Kekua informs Te'o that she has leukemia, Te'o told ESPN.

JULY 4, 2012

Te'o again plans to see Kekua, but he gets tied up because of a family reunion, according to the account he gave ESPN.


Jazmine Lutu, Tuiasosopo's real life cousin, is diagnosed with leukemia, according to Tuiasosopo's father's Facebook page.

SEPT. 12, 2012

Te'o grandmother dies Sept. 11, but he finds out on Sept. 12. Kekua calls him saying that she will be there for him. Two hours later Te'o says he gets a call from Kekua's "brother" hysterically saying "she's gone."

SEPT. 13, 2012

Te'o tweets, "I may not hear your voice but I do feel your presence."

SEPT. 15, 2012

Te'o has a great game against Michigan State recording 12 tackles and makes mention of the death of his grandmother and Kekua in a post game interview. The story of the death of his girlfriend and grandmother on the same day would make national headlines and becoming one of the biggest stories in college football.

SEPT. 22, 2012

Kekua funeral set to take place on the same day as Notre Dame vs. Michigan game. Te'o makes a promise to her that he would play football no matter what should anything happen to her.


Te'o begins dating Alex Pillar. People related to Kekua reach out to him and call her a gold digger and begin warning him about her, he told ESPN.

NOV. 21, 2012

Te'o tweets, "Funniest part is I already know I got your attention," and "The worst thing you can do is fool yourself."

NOV. 24, 2012

Te'o meets Tuiasosopo at the USC-Notre Dame game for the first time, he told ESPN. It was during a meeting he wanted set up with a 9-year old who was supposed to be Kekua's cousin. In the past, he had spoken with this girl and she was described as Kekua's cousin. He wanted the meeting as a way to remember Lennay.

DEC. 4, 2012

JR Vaosa tweets Te'o warning him that Kekua is a hoax, and doesn't exist. Vaosa, 28, of Torrance, Calif., said on ESPN's "Outside the Lines'' that their cousin began an online romance in 2008 with a woman who portrayed herself as a model. Vaosa said he went with his cousin to meet the online Kekua at various places. But instead of Kekua, he told ESPN, they would be met by Tuiasosopo.

DEC. 6, 2012

After ESPN/Home Depot Award show in Orlando, Te'o got a call from Kekua, saying she is not dead, Te'o told ESPN.

"I just went on a rampage. Like, how could you do this to me?" Te'o told ESPN.

Manti Te'o Not "Kekua's" Only Catfish Victim

DEC. 8, 2012

Te'o mentions Kekua in an interview for the last time.

DEC. 10, 2012Te'o asks his friends what he should do regarding the situation, he told ESPN. Te'o says his friend told him to notify his parents.

DEC. 24, 2012

He notifies his mother first and then the rest of his family that he has been hoaxed, Te'o told ESPN.

DEC. 26, 2012

Te'o notifies Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly and a few others, according to what he told ESPN. The school launches an investigation that clears Te'o. They say it becomes clear very quickly who the perpetrators are although they do not speak with Tuiasosopo.


Te'o says Kekua informs him that her real name is Leah and says she will reveal the truth on Jan. 16.

JAN. 16, 2012

Te'o says Tuiasosopo calls him on the phone and apologizes for the prank. A few hours later the online sports siteDeadspin releases an article revealing the scam. At 8 p.m., Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick says that the school has conducted an investigation that has cleared Te'o and that "nothing that I've learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota."

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