01/18/2013 04:03 pm ET

35 People Who Believe Manti Te'o Is Innocent

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o lied repeatedly about Lennay Kakua, the dead longtime girlfriend who never existed — at the very least, in interviews after Dec. 6, when he and the university say he learned that he had been the victim of a hoax reportedly perpetuated by Teo's family friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

Theories abound for what happened before Dec. 6: that Te'o was trying to up his chances for winning the Heisman trophy, that he and Tuiasosopo are gay and constructed the lie to conceal their relationship, that Te'o's whole family was in on an elaborate publicity stunt. A friend of Tuiasosopo told Deadspin he was "80 percent sure" that Te'o knew about the hoax. Still, some believe Te'o and Notre Dame's story: that Te'o was completely in the dark until he received a call from what he thought Kakua's number in early December, months after her death.

"It's totally plausible to us having seen lots of these stories this is something that he could get roped into and believe in," said Henry Joost, a director of "Catfish," the television spinoff of the 2011 film about a similar online scam.

Here are some other people who believe that Te'o was actually so gullible, eager to believe in his relationship or embarrassed about having an online-only girlfriend that he never questioned Kakua's existence even as his teammates had their doubts.

People Who Believe Manti Te'o