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Manti Te’o: Why Is This a Huge Story?

Manti Teo Girlfriend hoax
Mike Stobe, Getty Images

In the past few days, you haven’t been able to listen to the radio, watch TV, pick up a periodical or go online without seeing a story about star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the hoax of an imaginary girlfriend who died hours after his grandmother early in the season and inspired not only Te’o but his Fighting Irish teammates to an undefeated season and a shot at the National Championship.

There are rumors swirling that Te’o not only knew about the hoax but started it. That the school was involved. That Te’o and his family did it to get in the limelight (which it definitely got him there with TV features, Sports Illustrated covers, etc.). Te’o had a fantastic season and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting (some voters even swung a few votes his way BECAUSE of the ‘tragedy’!) There’s even another rumor that Te’o invented the girlfriend because he’s gay and didn’t want to come out!

All that being said, why do we care?!?! The bottom line is that he’s 21-years old and it’s an internet hoax. Apparently there is on MTV series on just this type of hoax called “Catfish” about internet dating and hoaxes.

Bottom line, it’s a big story because America as a whole and the media specifically was reeled in by the story and they don’t like being fooled. There are internet hoaxes every single day. Whether it’s people lying to each other on dating sites and Facebook, to ‘celebrity deaths’ (how many times have they killed off Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson!?!) to people filing false tax returns online.

We all want an inspirational story and a happy ending. The kid tried to give it to us. Plus he likes the attention. Again, he’s just a kid, who was at the heart of one of the biggest internet hoaxes ever. There will be more. Trust me.


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