The strange and twisted Manti Te’o saga took another series of WTF turns on Thursday, and we’re back to bring you up to speed.
First up: Te’o apparently spent more than 500 hours on the phone with his fake, social media hoax of a girlfriend — who wasn’t even being impersonated by a woman.
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According to multiple reports, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo — the scam’s alleged puppet master — played the part of Lennay Kekua during more than 1,000 intimate phone calls Te’o says he legitimately thought he was sharing with his girlfriend between from last May through September, when she fake died in a fake car crash.
Tuiasosopo’s lawyer told the New York Daily News that his client had disguised his voice to dupe Te’o. ESPN reported Wednesday that it obtained documents showing the two had spent hundreds of hours conversing.
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Katie Couric — whose extended Thursday afternoon interview with Te’o contained the former Notre Dame football star’s first extended comments on the shocking hoax — earlier in the day posted audio from three voicemails “Kekua” left for Te’o.
In the first, Kekua updates him on her fictional first day of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. In the second, she expresses insecurity that Te’o might be seeing someone else behind her nonexistent back. In the third, she tells Te’o she loves him. Clips from all three voicemails are included in this compilation:
Te’o and Kekua’s romance was the feel-good sports story of the fall, and covered by a wide range of major media outlets. They had allegedly, according to Te’o's dad, met in person after a game at Stanford then struck up a romance online. Kekua was said to have died in September after a horrible car accident and battle with leukemia, but Te’o nonetheless led Notre Dame within one win of a national title and finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Then a bombshell Deadspin report blew that narrative to smithereens last week. Te’o and Kekua had never met. She had never lived, or died, but was in fact part of an elaborate “catfishing” scam perpetrated by Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of Te’o's. Photos associated with Kekua’s fake social media accounts were allegedly stolen from another woman’s social profiles without her knowledge.
The main question then became what Te’o's role was in it all. Was he just incredibly naive? Was he part of the hoax all along, looking to boost his media profile and Heisman candidacy? Was he gay, and this a coverup? Was he initially fooled by the scam, then an accomplice?
On Friday, Couric shared an interview teaser clip in which Te’o admitted that he actually learned of the deception in December but was too embarrassed to come clean at the time.
The full interview that aired Thursday afternoon was supposed to lend some clarity to the entire story, but it was widely panned among the sports Twitterati and further extended the entire story’s farcical nature. Te’o's apparent naivete was widely roasted and the most awkwardly viral moment came when Couric asked pointedly whether he is gay.
“No,” Te’o answered. “Far from it. Faaaaar from it.”
The New York Times had a good running commentary on its live blog of the interview. You can check that out here.
Do you still think it’s possible Te’o was in on the hoax, or is he simply a naive victim? Give us your take in the comments.
Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
This story originally published on Mashable here.
Doug Farrar is the editor of Shutdown Corner, Yahoo! Sports’ NFL blog.
One senator’s joke about battling Cuban communism with American college kids on Spring Break led to an outraged verbal smackdown from another senator Thursday.
The setting was Sen. John Kerry‘s confirmation hearing as President Obama‘s nominee to be Secretary of State.
The joker was Sen. Jeff Flake, the newly elected Republican from Arizona.
“Let me just mention one item briefly and then ask a few questions. With regard to Cuba, I’ve felt, perhaps differently than some of my colleagues on this panel, that the best way to foster change and progress toward democracy is to allow travel, free travel of Americans, to let them go as they wish. I don’t think that that’s a weakness or any capitulation at all. I think it’s a – it’s a way to show strength. In fact, I’ve often felt that if we want a real get-tough policy with the Castro brothers, we should force them to deal with spring break once or twice. (Laughter.)
“But – (chuckles) – but in all seriousness, this president has taken measures to allow more Americans to travel freely, relatives travel for religious or cultural, education purposes. I think that’s a good thing. I hope that you’ll find ways to continue that and continue more innovative approaches to deal with change there.”
Funny, right? Because he’s suggesting that coeds in bikinis could accomplish what more than a half century of American travel restrictions and boycotts could not.
While the 1962 travel embargo remains in effect, in 2011 President rolled back some travel restrictions, in place since 2003, to allow students and religious groups to visit Cuba and to allow charter flights to the island to depart from all U.S. airports. The new guidelines also allow Americans to send up to $500 per quarter to non-family members in the Communist country.
Not everybody thought Flake’s joke was funny. Sen. Bob Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey and the son of Cuban immigrants who stands to take over as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee if Kerry leaves, came closed the hearing with some harsh words for Flake.
“I had no intention of raising it, but, you know, to suggest that spring break is a form of – a form of torture to the Castro regime – unfortunately, they are experts about torture, as is evidenced by the increasing brutal crackdown on peaceful democracy advocates on the island just in the last year, over 6,600 peaceful democracy advocates detained or arrested.
“Just this past Sunday, the Ladies in White, a group of women who dress in white and march every Sunday with a gladiolus to church, tried to come together to go to church this past Sunday. And the result of that – these are individuals who are the relatives of former or current political prisoners in Castro’s jails – the result is that more than 35 of the Women in White were intercepted, beaten with belts, threatened to death by agents aiming guns at them and temporarily arrested.
“And then we have a United States citizen who all he tried to do is give access to the Internet to a small Jewish population in Havana and has been languishing in jail for nearly four years. That’s real torture.”
Not mentioning Cuba? Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Repubican whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956 just before Castro returned to the country. Rubio focused his questioning of Kerry on North Korea, Syria, the Middle East and China.
Molly Bosak, left, and her sister, Brianna Bosak, right, shovel snow in their driveway along Cogan Circle, in State College, Pa., Wednesday, January 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Weather service notes nuke-effect snow in W. Pa.
SHIPPINGPORT, Pa. (AP) — You could even say it glows?
Well, not quite, but the National Weather Service says a nuclear power plant was partly responsible for a narrow band of snow that fell on parts of western Pennsylvania Tuesday night.
Meteorologist Lee Hendricks says steam pumped into the air from two cooling towers at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station and three similar towers at the coal-fired Bruce Mansfield Station next to it created the snow. That happened because the steam was released into very cold, dry air above the power plants, both owned by Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy.
Hendricks says the plant-fueled snow is similar to lake-effect snow.
Areas due east of the power plants — which are about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh — reported one to three inches of snow.
Police: Mice culprits in Kan. evidence tampering
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The three bags of marijuana at the police storage facility in Wichita had been torn open. Some was missing. At first blush, it seemed a clear case of evidence tampering.
Wichita police duly investigated and on Thursday they told reporters they’ve even identified some suspects. Well, sort of.
Police Lt. Doug Nolte says mice chewed into the bags of marijuana from some 2009 cases, nested in it and ate some.
Nolte says, “We’ve got some mice that are stoners.”
But he also says it’s not that uncommon because marijuana has a strong odor that attracts animals.
Police took photographs, resealed the bags and reweighed the evidence. An exterminator has been contacted.
Meanwhile, the suspicious rodents remain at large. No charges have been filed.
Prostitution sting lures woman straight to police
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a 20-year-old Portland woman drove 50 miles to reach the man she thought was her client after being solicited for prostitution through phone and text messages.
But there was something unusual about the destination: It was the Salem Police Department.
Stranger still, police say the woman walked past several uniformed officers and clearly marked signs reading “Salem Police Department” before arriving at an unmarked door, where they say she attempted to contact the man she thought was her client.
Instead, she was arrested. The phone and text messages were part of a sting operation by Salem police detectives, who first identified the woman through a website.
The Jan. 11 arrest led to charges of prostitution and promoting prostitution for Christal D. Smith of Portland.
An attorney for Smith couldn’t be found Thursday afternoon.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
Minn. man receives candy 60 years after complaint
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — It took 60 years, but a Minnesota man finally has his free candy bars.
Seventy-four-year-old Dave Bell of St. Cloud received a package of candy last week after sending an email reminding Pearson’s Candy Co. in St. Paul of the complaint he made as a teenager.
In 1952, Bell was 14 when he bit into a nut roll and discovered a twig. He tells the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/YpAANQ ) he sent a letter to Pearson’s “to obviously get some candy.”
He got a letter of apology from the son of one of the company’s founders. But no candy.
Last year Bell came across the letter, so he reminded the company about the candy. The candy arrived Friday.
Bell jokes he’s not sharing the candy.
Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com
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