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In one of the stranger, more elaborate death hoaxes to hit the Internet and way beyond, a new report suggests Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend did not die this year, as had been previously reported.

In fact, she never even existed.

Some quick background:

Philadelphia Eagles Helmet
Photo via Getty Images
  • Te’o was a Heisman Trophy finalist who led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season.
  • On September 12, news broke that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, passed away from leukemia. The story became national news three days later after Te’o starred in an Irish victory and said Kekua encouraged him to play.
  • Kekua’s funeral took place on September 22, with Te’o not in attendance and with the above message displayed across television screens, supposedly proving that this was in accordance with his late girlfriend’s wishes.

But now Deadspin has come out with an elaborate article that alleges there is no record anywhere of Kekua’s death: no obituary, no funeral announcement, no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.

Moreover, there is no record of her life.

University records do not show anyone named Lennay Kekua enrolled at Stanford; there is no record of her birth and, in perhaps the most confusing and troubling report, the photo above is reportedly NOT of Kekua.

Deadspin claims it got in touch with a woman from Torrance, California who, upon being shown the image, replied over the phone:

“That is a picture of me from my Facebook account.”

The article goes on to explain why Te’o likely played a role in this hoax. Deadspin says it has reached out to the athlete for comment, but is yet to get in touch with him.

It’s certainly one of the more unusual stories we’ve come across in recent memory, considering the elaborate conspiracy that would be at work here by one of college football’s most respected players… if it is proven to be true, of course.

We’ll update this post as more news breaks.