Two more football players have been dragged into the bizarre hoax surrounding Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o and his “dead girlfriend” Lennay Kekua after a tweet was sent from a Twitter account claiming to be hers.
Lennay Kekua was reported to have died in September from leukemia while Manti Te’o was leading his team to glory in an undefeated run to the January 7 BSC championship – turning him into the season’s star.
After the tale was revealed yesterday as a “sick joke”, it has now emerged that Manti Te’o may have not been the first victim of the fictitious Lennay Kekua, as Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia and Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu have been connected to her.
An ambiguous tweet was sent from a Twitter account late last night – the first since her supposed death from leukemia – defending Samoan players Reagan Mauia and Troy Polamalu.
It said: “It isn’t fair to drag Reagan and Troy into this…a lot of truths and myths need to be addressed here, and they will be at noon PST tomorrow.”
The user then announced she would be releasing a statement later today.
In another twist to the already complicated tale, Reagan Mauia told ESPN last night that Lennay Kekua was a real person and he had met her.
Reagan Mauia told the sports network: “This was before her and Manti. I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends.
“We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family.”
The sheer scale and detail that went into the hoax was exposed yesterday by Deadspin after an investigation revealed that Manti Te’o was the victim of online predators who invented not only the death of Lennay Kekua, but her actual existence.
It is an intricate and confusing story involving multiple people connected to the college football and now NFL world, though it is still not known who the ‘online predators’ are who seem intent on keeping the joke going.
Several people have since been dragged into the story as well as Reagan Mauia and Troy Polamalu.
A man who calls himself “Jay Rahz” on his Twitter account has taken to his page today to defend himself and claims he is not behind the hoax.
He names Manti Te’o’s old school friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, tweeting: “Everyone needs to hit up Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and get the truth.. the truth will set you free!!” and “Perhaps we should have NOT been joking about being @LennayKay cause now people are really believing and retweeting it.”
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is also a friend of the woman whose picture was used purporting to be Lennay Kekua.
Back in December, Jay Rahz – who knows Ronaiah Tuiasosopo – insinuated that he was the one behind Lennay Kekua’s Twitter account in online ‘chatter’.
On the night of the BCS title game, Jay Rahz posted: “I wonder if the real Lennay Kekua is watching the game…Cause I know the fake one that didn’t die is not watching over the Irish!”
Other tweets with took place on December 12 with user C. Tuiotimariner also hinted to the fact Jay Rahz might be behind the hoax when he posted that he “Goes back to running @LennayKay’s profile”.
C. Tuiotimariner writes back: “You’ll thank me later Lennay, I mean JayR.”
Delving back further into Jay Rahz’s Twitter history revealed a picture of Troy Polamalu taken almost three years with the caption: “First Skype victim Troy.”
Troy Polamalu is topless in the picture, hinting to the fact he may have been having an intimate Skype call with someone – someone who could have been claiming to be Lennay Kekua.
SB Nation discovered Lennay Kekua’s Twitter account was only created yesterday – meaning the original account had been deactivated and then picked back up again – after Deadspin broke the story.
The people behind it retweeted Manti Te’o’s posts to make it look like the account had been up since September 12 – the day Lennay Kekua is said to have died – because a retweet only shows the original date of the original post.
Lennay Kekua only follows four people on her Twitter feed – Manti Te’o, Troy Polamalu, Reagan Mauia and Rey Maualuga – another Samoan football player who lives in California.
In among the web of deceit is another woman who is accused of posing as Lennay Kekua’s sister U’ilani Rae Kekua.
There has been speculation that the faux-sister and her corresponding Twitter account was another invention of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
U’ilani Rae Kekua frequently tweeted with Manti Te’o and a number of Notre Dame fans and people connected to the scandal. When she made arrangements to meet anyone, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo would often show up in her place.
U’ilani Rae Kekua would send pictures of herself sitting at her sister’s grave to Manti Te’o. Deadspin discovered that the woman in the pictures is Donna Tei – who doesn’t seem to have a relationship with anyone involved in the hoax.
Deadpsin connected her to the scandal after she contacted one of the men behind the Catfish documentary about the use of her picture.
The nation was captivated by the story of Mormon star linebacker Manti Te’o, who has been regarded as a future star of the NFL as he played an award-winning season despite personal tragedy.
In numerous published reports, Manti Te’o said that while this past season brought many triumphs to his life, there were also twin tragedies – the deaths of his 72-year-old grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, within a day of each other.
A comprehensive investigation by Deadspin.com found that while his grandmother did indeed die on September 12, 2012, Lennay Kekua did not – nor did she even exist – thus beginning a confusing tale of lies and deceit.
When Deadpsin contacted the pretty brunette used in numerous pictures sent to Te’o and posted on Twitter purporting to be Kakua, she said she had never met the football star but did send one of the pictures used to an old school friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is known to be a good friend of Manti Te’o and the pair are said to have went to a USC game in Los Angeles at the end of November.
Family and friends of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo believe he is the one behind the Kekua hoax and even suggested Manti Te’o was not the first to have an online relationship with her.
They told Deadspin that Lennay Kekua was created in 2008 and had an online relationship with another guy for about one month, which ended after family members grew suspicious that she could never be found on the phone.
It was also pointed out that wherever Lennay Kekua was expected to be, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was there instead.
Two other sources said it was a simple prank which blew out of control after Manti Te’o became a footballing star almost overnight in the past season.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo comes from a huge football family.