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6:45 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Manti Te'o Says He Lied After Learning 'Girlfriend' Was A Hoax

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 9:19 am

ABC News is beginning to release bits of Katie Couric's conversation with Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o, and the first highlight the network is spotlighting is this:

"Manti Te'o briefly lied to the media and the public after discovering his online girlfriend did not exist ... he admitted in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Katie Couric."

Basically, it looks like the linebacker told Couric that he learned "Lennay Kekua" wasn't real and that he had been the victim of a hoax last Dec. 6. But Te'o says he spoke of her to interviewers two days later as if she had been real because he didn't want to look like he'd been fooled.

"Put yourself in my situation," he says to Couric. "What would you do?"

If you're just catching up on the Te'o story:

-- His public profile went sky high in September when it was reported that his grandmother and his girlfriend had died on the same day.

-- But last week, as we wrote, Deadspin broke the news that "Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend, the most heartbreaking and inspirational story of the college football season, is a hoax."

-- Then, all sorts of questions began to be asked about Te'o and the story of his girlfriend. The player and Notre Dame put out word that he had never actually met Kekua — that they had only communicated online and by telephone. That contradicted accounts given by Te'o's parents and things he had told news outlets such as Sports Illustrated.

-- Who was behind the hoax? Much of the focus has been on a young California man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

Now, Te'o's father tearfully tells Couric that his son is "not a liar, he's a kid" and was the victim, not a participant, in the hoax.

ABC will roll out more highlights later on World News with Diane Sawyer. Couric's interview with Te'o airs on Thursday. You can find a station that broadcasts her show by clicking here.

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