Ronaiah Tuiasosopo "fell deeply, romantically in love" with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o as he perpetrated the lengthy hoax involving a fake girlfriend, according to Dr. Phil McGraw.
A 22-year-old man from Southern California, Tuiasosopo was revealed as the mastermind of the hoax by Deadspin and has reportedly apologized to Te'o and other parties involved. A day before the first episode of his two-part interview with the hoaxer is to air on Thursday, McGraw told NBC’s Mike Taibbi that Tuiasosopo claimed Te'o was not involved in the fraud. According to McGraw, Tuiasosopo also revealed romantic feelings for the Heisman finalist.
“I asked him straight up, ‘Was this a romantic relationship with you?’ And he says 'yes,'" McGraw said in a segment on TODAY that aired on Wednesday. "I said, ‘Are you then therefore gay?’ And he said, 'When you put it that way, yes.' And then he caught himself and said, 'I am confused.'"
Prominent among the theories as to what really happened in this bizarre story was that Te'o had been involved in creating the hoax to hide his own sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay during an interview with Katie Couric, Te'o gave quite a different response than Tuiasosopo:
"No, far from it. Far from it," said Te'o, emphasizing the second use "far."
McGraw also told Taibbii that Tuiasosopo said it was him who posed as Lennay Kekua, Te'os fake girlfriend, during lengthy and frequent phone conversations.
However, a cousin of Ronaiah's told the New York Post last week that it was actually Tino Tuiasosopo, another cousin of Ronaiah's, who was the voice of Kekua.