Co-Author of Te'o Deadspin Article talks with FOX28 - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Co-Author of Te'o Deadspin Article talks with FOX28


The story blew up rapidly overnight, but Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax was first exposed in a Deadspin article.

Jack Dickey, who co-authored the article, says Deadspin was first tipped off about the hoax last Friday. 

"We got an email saying if you dig into Lennay Kekua, you'll find that she never existed," Dickey said in a phone interview with FOX 28.  "Obviously we were skeptical about this because of the way the national media had reported the story."

According to Dickey, Deadspin gets e-mails similar to this all the time. Even when they seem far fetched and knowing most do not pan out, the Deadspin staff still looks to uncover anything that might be out there.

"We did some digging and found out, 'Wait there are a bunch of things that don't add up.'," Dickey added. 

After many hours of Internet browsing and several phone calls, Deadspin discovered there was no public death record for Kekua and the images used on her Twitter feed were from a private Facebook account not associated with the name Lannay Kekua.

"The next step for us was, well if she's fake then who's behind the fake?" said Dickey. "Is it Te'o? Or is there someone else? And we did find someone else."

Dickey and his co-author Timothy Burke report in the article the fake Kekua Twitter account was likely run by Ronaiah Tusiososopo, someone Deadspin says Te'o definitely knew prior to the story breaking.

"It was amazing that this story had gone unchecked in the way it had," said Dickey.

The Deadspin article was posted Wednesday at 4:10 PM and four hours later Notre Dame's Director of Athletics addressed the hoax in front of a national audience.

"Manti is the victim of that hoax and he will carry that with him for a while," said Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, in a Wednesday press conference.

However, Dickey believes as this story unfolds, details may show Te'o was involved. Deadspin reports a friend of Tusiososopo told the website he was 80 percent positive that Te'o was involved in the hoax and Kekua's death was used as a way to gain publicity.

"I think it's highly unlikely [Te'o] was the victim of a hoax," said Dickey. "Just because of how involved that hoax would have to be and also how gullible Manti would have to be for such a thing to happen."

Dickey added he looks forward to seeing this story unfold and like many hopes to hear Te'o's side of things.

The purpose of the article, according to Dickey, was not to exploit anyone, but rather to get the truth out to the masses.

"You can have whatever issues with Deadspin you want to have, but on this story were dead on in doing a story on both the duping of a fan base and the duping of the national sports media."

Dickey says Deadspin did not pay for any interviews or information for the Te'o story.

Many people first learned about Lennay Kekua, in Oct. 2012, after reading a Sports Illustrated article about her death. SI released the transcript of that interview Thursday afternoon on their website: Manti Te'o in his own words.

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