Netflix has been doing a great job with their documentary series lately, and Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist is the latest one that has viewers dumbfounded.
The two-part series tells the strange and shocking story of American football player Manti Te’o, whose life and career went downhill when it was found out that his late girlfriend, who he had dedicated his senior season, never existed. But where is Manti now, and was he ever able to play football professionally?
In 2012, Manti, a promising young NFL player for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, made headlines all over America when it was revealed that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua was not real and that he had been involved in a catfishing scandal.
Manti had thought for a long time that he was in a long-distance relationship with a Stanford student named Lennay Kekua. Most of their interactions took place online. Even though they sent each other text messages and talked on the phone, they never met or even video called.
Manti’s life fell apart when both Lennay and his grandmother died right before one of his most important college games. He was so sad that he told reporters at the game that night about his losses and promised to spend the rest of the season playing for Lennay, whom he thought had died of leukaemia.
The only problem was that Lennay wasn’t dead. In fact, she had never lived. Ronaiah “Naya” Tuiasosopo, who posed as Lennay online, grew up near Manti in Laie, which is on the island of Oahu in Hawai’i.
Naya, who has since come out as transgender, said she was the mastermind behind the elaborate hoax, but many commentators, fellow students, and NFL fans were suspicious of how much Manti was involved.
Some people thought he and Naya planned the whole thing to get people to feel sorry for them, while others thought they were in a secret relationship that they knew would be frowned upon in the very masculine world of college football. So far, only one NFL player has come out as gay or bisexual while still playing in the league, and that happened just last year.
Manti did get picked in the 2013 NFL draught, despite the huge scandal, but not in the first round as he had hoped. He was picked by the San Diego Chargers in the second round. He played for the team for four years before going to play for the New Orleans Saints in 2017 and then the Chicago Bears in 2020. But his team contract ended at the end of the season in January 2021, and he has been a free agent ever since.
In his personal life, Manti has found love again with Jovi Nicole Engine, a personal trainer and beauty consultant. Early in 2020, they got engaged, and they got married later that year in La Jolla, California, not long after their first child, a daughter named Hiro, was born.