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"It hit me like a ton of bricks" - Manti Te'o reveals how attending a Jay-Z concert inspired him to talk about his catfish scandal

Former NFL LB Manti Te'o (l) and rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z (r)
Former NFL LB Manti Te'o (l) and rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z (r)

Manti Te'o was part of an intricate catfish hoax while a linebacker at Notre Dame. In 2012, he felt that was in a real relationship while dealing with the loss of his grandmother. The linebacker was told soon after that his girlfriend had passed away from leukemia. However, Te'o's girlfriend never existed. It took time for Te’o to come forward and tell the story, but was ultimately inspired by rapper and mogul Jay-Z.

While with the New Orleans Saints in 2017, he and other Saints teammates attended a concert by the musician. He told CBS Mornings that he was compelled to tell the story after one of Jay-Z's lyrics from his song “Kill Jay-Z" resonated with him:

"Cam Jordan with the Saints took a bunch of us teammates to a Jay-Z concert, and at that concert, Jay-Z opens up with saying these words - 'you cannot heal what you don't reveal.' And it may have been just some random words to everybody, but for me, at that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks."
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The linebacker went on to say:

"In order for me to kind of heal from this, I needed to reveal it."

In reality, he really had no idea who his girlfriend was. Stanford University student Lennay Kekua didn't exist. However, he noted in the past that he had met Kekua face-to-face.

Te'o unequivocally rejects playing a role in the prank. After it was revealed that it was all a hoax, the former Notre Dame linebacker in 2013 said that he should've been more cautious:

“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was."

The documentary "Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist” can now be seen on Netflix.

Check out the trailer here:

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Te'o and life post-catfish hoax

Te'o with the San Diego Chargers
Te'o with the San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He had 221 tackles, two interceptions, and one-and-a-half sacks in four seasons with San Diego. He then signed with the Saints, playing three seasons for them (2017–2019), recording 86 tackles and four passes defended in 24 games with New Orleans.

In 2020, Te'o signed with the Chicago Bears' practice squad but never played a regular season down with the team. The 31-year-old is currently a free agent.

In 2020, the NFL linebacker married fitness professional Jovi Nicole Engbino in La Jolla, California. He and Engbino have one daughter together with a son on the way.

For Te’o, it seems that he’s turned a chapter in his life and left the catfish scandal behind him. Telling his story may have given him the closure needed to move on.


If you use any of the above quotes, please credit Sporting News, TMZ, and H/T Sportskeeda.

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Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann
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