Dr. Phil says Manti Te'o hoaxer admits to love for linebacker

Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:12pm EST
 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who has admitted to fabricating Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend in an elaborate hoax told talk show host Phil McGraw he felt a deep romantic love for the football player, McGraw said on Wednesday.

"Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love," McGraw told the television morning show "Today" to discuss his two part interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, which will air on "Dr. Phil" on Thursday and Friday.

"I asked him straight up, 'Was this a romantic relationship with you?,' and he says yes. I said, 'Are you then therefore gay?' And he said, 'When you put it that way, yes.' And then he caught himself and said, 'I am confused,'" McGraw told "Today."

Te'o has said in a previous media interview he is not gay.

The fake girlfriend hoax involving Te'o, who was a finalist for college football's highest individual honor the Heisman trophy, caused a sensation when it was revealed earlier this month on news website Deadspin.com.

Tuiasosopo says he played the part over the phone of Lennay Kekua, the fictitious woman who was Te'o's girlfriend in the hoax. Te'o, 22, had spoken about the woman in media interviews, and reports described her surviving a car accident and then dying of leukemia in September.

Te'o has said since the hoax was exposed that he was the victim of an elaborate prank, that he never met Kekua and that his acquaintance Tuiasosopo admitted to him that he was the one who played the part of Lennay.

Dr. Phil said in a segment on "Today" on Wednesday that after an extensive interview with Tuiasosopo, he believes Te'o had no role in creating the hoax.

"Absolutely, unequivocally, no," McGraw said, in pinning the blame for the scheme on Tuiasosopo.   Continued...

 
Dr. Phil McGraw (L) interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo on the set of his show in this January 2013 handout photo obtained by Reuters January 30, 2013. REUTERS/CBS Television Distribution / Peteski Productions/Handout