Wednesday, September 14 2022

Nearly a decade after soccer champion Manti Te’o became a lesson in ‘don’t trust everyone you meet on the internet’, he tells his story in the Netflix documentary, Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist. But while her story may be everyone’s worst fear, most will be pleased to know that Te’o has, in fact, found her happily ever after.

In 2012, the Notre Dame senior linebacker won the Heisman Trophy, dedicating football’s ultimate prize to his grandmother and girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who died the same day. Kekua, with whom he had only had an online relationship, is said to have died of leukemia.

However, a 2013 investigation showed that she never existed and her real name was Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, although she has since changed her first name to Naya. The catfishing scandal caused an uproar on social media, accusing Te’o of being involved in the hoax, despite Notre Dame publishing statements arguing that the soccer player was a victim.

Since then, Te’o was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he played four seasons before signing a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. In 2020, he joined the Chicago Bears practice squad, remaining with the team until January 2021 before becoming an NFL free agent.

Besides his football career, Te’o found a real girlfriend – personal trainer and beauty consultant Jovi Nicole Engbino – whom he married in August 2020, before having his first baby in August 2021. He did the announcement of his daughter’s birth on Instagram, writing, “Forever grateful for my wife. Thank you for bringing our baby girl into the world. I love you.”

Regarding the two-part Netflix documentary, Te’o took to Instagram to thank his followers for helping him tell his story.

“To all the people who have supported me and defended me, this one is for you. Thank you for your unwavering love and support,” he wrote. “You have no idea what this has meant to me for the past 10 years. To my family, we’ve been through it all…the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but I’m forever grateful to have you all with me, every step of the way.

He continued, “Last but not least, God… thank you. Thanks for all the lessons. Thanks for all the hard times. Thank you for the good people over the years who reached out to show their love and support when it wasn’t the most popular thing to do. Thank you for everything. It was all meant for me. »

Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist is currently streaming on Netflix.


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