The girlfriend starring in Manti Te’o’s stories may have been fictional. But the PR executive now helping to reset the narrative of the Notre Dame linebacker is very real, and it’s not his first game.
Mr. Te’o and his family hired Matthew Hiltzik, the CEO of Hiltzik Strategies, when news of a hoax broke last week. In September, sports media outlets reported on the death of the athlete’s grandmother Annette Santiago, and his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, with whom he had been in a virtual relationship. On Jan. 16, Gawker-owned sports blogDeadspin reported evidence that she didn’t exist, as well as other details of the scam.
After a few days of silence, Mr. Te’o participated in his first interviewwith ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, during which he conceded that he had been the victim of a hoax. During the interview on Friday, he denied playing a role in the hoax. However, ESPN reported that after he learned about Lennay’s death he “tailored” his stories so people would think he had “met her before she passed away.”
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