- (Photograph:Twitter/ Manti Te'o)
Manti Te'o, University of Notre Dame linebacker turned NFL prospect, has inspired an Internet meme after letting the world know that he was the victim of a hoax when an online girlfriend who died last September turned out to be nonexistent.
Te'o, 21, left a number of people questioning if he was involved in the fabricated story about a dead girlfriend Lennay Kekau whose life ended after an alleged leukemia diagnosis before he led his Fighting Irish to defeat Michigan State on Sept 15. While Te'o detailed his relationship with 22-year-old Kekau in a Sports Illustrated piece last year, Deadspin.com revealed that the young woman never existed after conducting a background check.
After the linebacker released a statement saying that he was fooled into believing that the woman existed based on an online correspondence, various people took to social media to create a meme called "Te'oing." A number of people took to Twitter show photos of themselves placing an arm around an invisible girlfriend.
While a number of people took part in the trend that became viral after news of Te'o erupted, others reacted to the meme on the social networking website.
"Everyone is walking around taking pictures of themselves Te'oing... #officeproblems," one person tweeted.
The South Carolina radio station Twitter account for 95.1 FM encouraged people to take part in the trend, tweeting, "Te'oing is the hot trend going on right now! Hold your imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend next to you!"
Another person decided to use the trending word to define being tricked by his favorite professional basketball team.
"My Lakers keep Te'oing me," the person tweeted. "They trick me to think they are good.... then they show the truth."
Still, others seemed to have fun participating in the trend.
"Picture of my gf modeling at the beach. We met online, can't wait to meet her in person," one person wrote to caption a photograph in which they appeared on a beach alone.
In a statement released by Te'o on ESPN.com, the linebacker admitted that the entire ordeal was humiliating.
"I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," the linebacker said. "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is painful and humiliating."