Katie Couric nabbed a sitdown with Manti Te’o after Deadspin broke the story that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, whose death was said to inspire the Notre Dame football player, didn’t exist.
In the interview, Couric spoke with the football star about the scandal, his sexuality and the man who created the fake Internet persona — Ronaiah Tuiasosopo Here are the 7 quotes we found most intriguing:
1. Couric asked Te’o what Tuiasosopo told him when he confessed that he was behind the hoax:
“He just explained that he just wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people of, you know, being someone that he wasn’t and trying to connect with somebody on a different level too and help ‘em out.”
2. Apparently Te’o was skeptical that Lennay was a real person at first. Couric showed this Facebook conversation that he had with his friend Lyle:
Manti: I was just wonderin because it does seem kinda weird and so I was like wonderin if it was someone else pullin a prank or something
Lyle: Oh yeah, she’s not a fake person. She’s a real person but she just kinda fake when it comes to other things.”
3. Couric asked Te’o if he was gay:
“No far from it. Faaaaarrr from that.”
4. Couric wondered why Te’o he didn’t go see his girlfriend at the hospital after her car accident.
“It was a conversation that I didn’t want to have with my parents to say mom and dad I missed my flight….”
5. On December 6, someone called Te’o claiming to be Lennay. This person said that she had been chased by drug dealers, but that she was alive. Two days later, Te’o lied to the media, still saying that his girlfriend had died. When Couric asked him why, he responded:
“Part of me was saying if you say that she’s alive, what would everybody think? What are you gonna tell everybody who follow you, who you’ve inspired? What are you going to say? And on that time on December 8th two days after I just found out that she’s alive. As a 21-year-old I wasn’t ready for that.”
6. Te’o’s parents came out at the end of the interview.
“I’m proud of this guy. I really am. And nothing that has happened in the last couple of weeks is gonna take that away. He’s not a liar. He’s a kid. He’s a 21-year-old kid trying to be a man and I love him. I really do,” his father said.
7. Couric asked Te’o what he would say to the person who deceived him this whole time.
“I’d just say you hurt me and you hurt me only because you involved my family. But after that I’d say ‘hey draw nearer to your family because that’s exactly what I did.’”