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Manti Te'o tells Katie Couric he was confused by hoax

Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o talks to Katie Couric in an exclusive interview on 'Katie.' (Lorenzo Bevilaqua)
January 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is speaking out about the girlfriend hoax in his first TV interview on "Katie."

It is the story that has left so many wondering: Was Te'o the victim of a vicious hoax, or was he in on it?

Te'o told ABC's Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online relationship. He also talked about how confused he was when he learned the woman he knew only over the Internet, who he thought had died of cancer, was never real to begin with.

"This girl who I committed myself to died on Sept. 12. Now, I get a phone call on Dec. 6 saying that she's alive, and then I'm going to be put on national TV two days later, and they ask me about the same question, what would you do?" he said.

Watch exclusive previews of the interview on the 'Katie' website

Couric spoke with Te'o and his family about the bizarre story, about the Palmdale man who has now confessed to putting the hoax together, and about how the Heisman Trophy candidate handled himself as the Fighting Irish played for the national championship and the spotlight focused in on the details of a story that still seems incomplete.

"People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life, and he's not a liar. He's a kid," said father Brian Te'o.

For Couric and others, the bizarre story sheds light on the world of Internet romance and scams, a frightening net of social media filled with impersonators and potential victims.

"The fact that you could become so intimate and close with someone in a long-distance relationship, and someone you never even met in the first place, is so bizarre, but I wonder if it's as bizarre among young people," Couric said.

One thing that impressed Couric is how Te'o and his family are trying to move on.

"Te'os were very magnanimous and very compassionate toward the offender and his family, which I think said a lot about them as people," Couric said.

Te'o shares how he and his family are now moving on and trying to put the hoax and all of the questions it has raised to rest. As for how this could affect Te'o's draft prospects, Couric didn't spend too much time on that, but she says Te'o and his family are confident he will be a first-round draft pick.

Watch the full exclusive interview with Manti Te'o Thursday at 3 p.m. on "Katie" on ABC7.


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