It was a banner day in sports media.
Because, for once, a major sports story was not broken by the likes of ESPN or NFL Network.
Yet both networks were carrying a hastily-scheduled press conference held by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
Why? Because according to an item on the sports website Deadspin – an item that had received over 1.5 million hits within four hours of being first published – there appears to be a charade behind Lennay Kekua, the deceased gal pal of Heisman Trophy-nominated Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o.
Except she’s not deceased – and in fact, she has never even met Te’o in her life.
Deadspin editor Timothy Burke appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and broke down the ingredients of what could be the sports story of 2013 – and the year is only half a month old.
“We did receive an e-mail last week that was… anonymous,” Burke told Cooper. “It said, you know, I think there’s something wrong, or weird, with Lennay Kekua, and you should check her out.
“My colleague, Jack Dickey and I started — you know, what do you do when you first want to know something, you Google it, right? And Google searches for “Lennay Kekua” only showed up articles about her dying, and inspiring Mant’i Teo. There’s no evidence of her existing in any way, other than, you know, after she had allegedly died. And we thought that was a little weird.
“We called into Stanford; several articles insisted that she had been a Stanford student, or a Stanford alumni, and nothing checked out there. We called all of the mortuaries and funeral homes in Carson, California, where several sources have reported that she had been buried; they had no information, either. And this sort of really told us that there’s something really weird going on here.
“When we finally were able to track back and see all these pictures… that had represented Lennay Kekua, and we found that the actual alive, doesn’t have leukemia, and has never met Mant’i Teo person that they belonged to, that sort of opened everything up.”
Burke also informed Cooper that Deadspin reached out to Te’o for comment but he “was not accepting phone calls” at the time.
“I would love to have talked to him and heard his side of the story,” he said.
Watch the full segment here: