In 2012, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became one of the household names in the world of college football, putting forth a dominant senior season for the Irish while playing with a heavy heart after the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day.
However, as the season wore on, that story began to unravel some with it eventually coming to light that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, didn’t actually exist. It was one of the most bizarre and captivating stories in sports that year, as Te’o had been catfished but rather than saying that, created this vast hoax of his girlfriend dying in a car accident and using that as motivation for his season. The why of all of it remains a mystery, and we should learn at least some of what happened for the first time in a new Netflix documentary, Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.
The documentary features interviews with Te’o, Ronaiah ‘Naya’ Tuiasosopo (who had created the Lennay Kekua identity), Timothy Burke who wrote the Deadspin piece exposing the story in 2013, and others from Te’o’s circle and Notre Dame. It figures to be a fascinating look at one of the strangest sagas in recent college football history and possibly provide some answers for why Te’o went to such great lengths to craft an elaborate narrative about Kekua’s death.