This Was The Voice Behind Manti Te'o's Fake Girlfriend

On August 16, 2022, Netflix released the documentary, "Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist." The documentary, directed by Ryan Duffy and Tony Vainuku, tracks the rise and alleged fall of Manti Te'o's personal and professional life, all from his secret relationship that turned out to be a catfish hoax (via IMDb). This story eventually gained nationwide attention from various publications, launching Manti Te'o into the spotlight for how his career got turned and twisted by this controversy. 

As Deadspin reports, the football player made headlines back in 2013, when it was revealed that the girlfriend he spun a reportedly inspirational story about, even dedicating a game to her, turned out to not be dead, as Te'o said. Instead, the girlfriend in question had been concocting an elaborate catfish hoax, pretending to be someone they weren't, using stolen photos and a stolen identity to do so. But how did this happen? And if Te'o's girlfriend wasn't who she said she was, who was the voice behind it all? 

Who is Manti Te'o

Te'o grew up as a Mormon Polynesian in Hawaii and eventually rose to fame in American football. He was a star while playing at the University of Notre Dame, quickly showing immense promise. As the Independent reports, this potential finally culminated in him becoming a Heisman Trophy contender while playing for the university. Te'o also had a few personal rough spots during his college career, as he lost his grandmother when he was a senior in college. It was also reported that he lost his girlfriend, too, but this eventually was revealed to be part of an elaborate catfish hoax.

As Deadspin reports, Te'o's story up until then had been about a football player who went against the odds and made an inspirational comeback from his personal tragedy. This all fell apart after an investigation into these claims happened. Manti Te'o's supposedly dead girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was not a real person, as the Social Security Administration did not have a record of her. Another odd thing was that there wasn't a funeral record, obituary, or any news of her passing in her university's newspaper. Everything, including background checks pointed towards her not existing.

The real voice behind Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend

Mani Te'o's catfisher was actually a transgender woman named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. She later told the New York Post that she had taken photos from a person named Diane O'Meara to fake her identity to Te'o. Reportedly, Tuiasosopo said that she developed genuine feelings for Te'o. "I did all that I can to help this person become a better person. It's very painful to even talk about but the truth of it is that happened. I grew feelings. I grew emotions that sooner or later, I couldn't control anymore," she said to the New York Post. 

It turns out that Tuiasosopo and Te'o were actually able to have phone calls together, but it's not what one would think. As The Atlantic reports, the woman who had the phone calls with Te'o was Tuiasosopo's cousin Tino. The common theory was that Tuiasosopo had been voicing all of the voicemails with a convincing voice change, but Tino had actually been supplying all of the voice work. Tino, who recently went through a break up, went along with the hoax until everything was uncovered.