Manti Te'o, former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, released a Netflix documentary on Tuesday about the online girlfriend hoax he was involved in during his time at Notre Dame.
Back in 2012, Te'o heard the news of his grandmother dying. The same day, Te'o was told his girlfriend also died. He dedicated his performances to his grandmother and girlfriend, helping Notre Dame become one of the best teams in college football.
Later, Te'o was informed that his girlfriend never existed.
"Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a news conference Wednesday night that coaches were informed by Te'o and his parents on Dec. 26 that Te'o had been the victim of what appeared to be a hoax," an ESPN article read back during the incident in 2013. "Someone using a fictitious name 'apparently ingratiated herself' with Te'o, the school said, then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had died of leukemia."
The documentary called "Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist" reveals the story in whole on Netflix and was released on Tuesday.
Who were the 2012 Heisman Finalists?
Alongside Te'o as one of the finalists for the Heisman award were Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Manziel won the award. But, not after Te'o admitted to missing his nonexistent girlfriend. Sports writers who voted for the Heisman trophy used the power of his story as a reason to make him a finalist for the award.
In his senior season, Te'o recorded 113 tackles, seven interceptions, 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss.
How did Notre Dame reach the 2012-13 National Championship game?
In South Bend, Ind., head coach Brian Kelly coached the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to a championship season.
Despite starting the season unranked, the Fighting Irish went 12-0 on the season. Led by Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o, Notre Dame finished with the best defense in the country, allowing 10.3 points per game. They played against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game but lost 42-14.
Who is Lennay Kukua?
Kukua was a fictitious social media character made by Naya Tuiasosopo. She made up characters for Lennay's family, including her brother, sister, mother, father, cousin and niece, who were all fake in real life. She constantly messaged Te'o and struck a relationship with the linebacker over social media.
Did Te'o play in the NFL?
Te'o was drafted No. 38 overall in the 2013 NFL draft. Expected to be a first-round pick, Te'o slipped because of his involvement in the girlfriend hoax. The hoax caused him to lose millions of dollars he would have made in the first round of the draft.
After playing four seasons with the Chargers, he played three seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
Te'o played for one season with the Bears in 2020. He didn't play during the regular season but played in the wild-card game versus the New Orleans Saints in 2020 due to a Roquan Smith injury. He recorded six tackles in the game.