Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Sports Illustrated has released a full, unedited transcript of reporter Pete Thamel’s September interview with Manti Te’o.The interview was for a cover story about Te’o recovering from the death of his girlfriend Lennay Kekua — which turned out to be an elaborate hoax that Te’o claims to be the victim of.
There are two jarring things about the transcript: 1) Te’o’s confusing statements when he talked about how he met Kekua, and 2) the exacting level of detail with which he talks about her.
When he talks about how they met, he sputters in two instances. Here’s the first one:
SI: How did you meet her?
TE’O: We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular.
SI: Where did you meet her in California?
TE’O: She actually came to one of the games. She saw me at one of the games.
SI: October 15, I assume is USC?
TE’O: That was in November. But she saw me at the USC game of my sophomore year. We were still just friends, we were acquaintances.
That is wishy-washy. But perhaps he was just embarrassed that they met online, as Thamel writes in the introduction, “The only time he didn’t speak with confidence was when I asked how they met. I didn’t press him, as it was clearly something he didn’t want to share. I suspected they may have met online, understood he wouldn’t have wanted that public and moved on.”
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said last night that Te’o never met Kekua. So the fake meeting story is either a white lie (if Te’o was just embarrassed by the online thing), or a much darker lie (if he was a perpetrator of the hoax).
There’s also one other bizarre detail from the transcript: Te’o told Thamel that from the time she got in a car accident on April 28 to the day she “died” on September 12, Kekua was in the hospital. He says Kekua was first in a coma from the accident, and then immediately went to treatment for leukemia.
But during that time (summer break for Notre Dame), Te’o never visited her in the hospital, and when she died, he never went to her funeral.
Regardless, Te’o speaks in rich detail about her. Here are some examples.
“One of the miraculous things was when I talked to her and she would hear my voice her breathing would pick up. Like quickly, and then she would start crying. But her breathing would quicken, and she would start crying. So her brother was in the room with the nurse. They were monitoring her. She said, “Who is she on the phone with?” Her boyfriend. She was like, ‘That’s amazing. She doesn’t do that with anybody else.’ So that happened. And then she flatlined and we were losing her.”
“So right when I landed, I was expecting to get a voicemail saying she’s gone. So I landed and I had a voicemail from her brother saying, ‘Brother, call me back right now.’ So you can imagine what’s going through my head. I was like, “What am I going to do? How am I going to take this?'”And so I called him back, the doctor came in and he saw something and he wants to try some treatment on her to see if it works. From there she slowly started to get better. Slowly.”
SI: The funeral service was in Carson? At 9 a.m., a closed casket?
TE’O: Yes. The family was telling me, what the plans were and at 9 they closed the casket and stuff like that.
SI: Where were you at noon yesterday?
TE’O: It was kind of actually perfect timing. I was getting my reps and in my mind I said, “What time is it? What time is it?” It was perfect timing. Right when coach was like,”All right, second group get it,” I turned to him and was like, “Coach what time is it?” He said, “It’s 12:01.” As I walked back to the (inaudible) I just cried.
That’s not all.
One of Te’o’s high school friends, UCLA football player Dalton Hilliard, told Thamel at the time that he communicated with Kekua, but never met her.
We really have no idea if this makes it more or less likely that Te’o was in on it.
These are all lies, of course. But are they Te’o’s lies? Or the alleged hoaxer’s?
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.