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The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist: Where is football player Manti Te'o now?

Find out all about his NFL career, wife and children here...

manti untold
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
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Netflix has been smashing it with their selection of documentary series recently, and their latest Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist is the latest that has left viewers with their jaws on the floor.

MORE: Netflix's Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist will leave viewers shocked - here's why

The two-part series tells the bizarre and shocking story of American football player Manti Te'o, whose life and career were sent spiralling after it emerged that his late girlfriend - who he dedicated his senior season to - never actually existed. But where is Manti now, and did he ever make it as a professional football player?

WATCH: Have you checked out the Netflix documentary? 

Back in 2012, Manti, a promising young NFL star playing for The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, hit headlines across America after it came to light that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua was not real and that he had been embroiled in a catfishing scandal.

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For many months, Manti had believed that he was in a long-distance relationship with a Stanford student by the name of Lennay Kekua that took place almost entirely online. While they messaged each other and spoke on the phone, they never met in person or even video called.

manti nfl© Photo: Netflix

Manti Te'o was a promising young football player when he hit headlines

Manti's world came crashing down when both Lennay and his grandmother passed away shortly before one of his biggest college games. Overcome by grief, he shared with reporters covering the game that night about his losses and promised to dedicate the rest of his season to Lennay, who he believed had died from leukaemia.

The only problem was that Lennay wasn't dead - in fact, she never even existed. The person posing as Lennay online was really Ronaiah 'Naya' Tuiasosopo, who grew up not far from Manti in Laie on the island of Oahu in Hawai'i.

manti naya© Photo: Netflix

Ronaiah 'Naya' Tuiasosopo catfished Manti as Lennay Kekua

Naya, who has since come out as transgender, admitted to being the mastermind behind the elaborate hoax, but many commentators, fellow students and NFL fans were left suspicious of how involved Manti had been in the scam.

Some speculated that he had planned the whole thing with Naya to garner sympathy, while others theorised that the pair were in a secret relationship that they knew would be frowned upon in the hyper-masculine world of college football. To date, there has been only one player who has publicly come out as gay or bisexual while being an active player in the NFL, and that was only last year.

manti now© Photo: Instagram

Manti with his wife Jovi Nicole Engbino and daughter Hiro

Despite the huge scandal, Manti did get selected for the 2013 NFL draft - but not in the first round as he would have hoped. In the second round, he was picked for the San Diego Chargers. He spent four years with the team before joining the New Orleans Saints in 2017 and then the Chicago Bears in 2020. However, his contract with the team expired after the season in January 2021, and since then, he has been a free agent.

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In his personal life, Manti has gone on to find love again with personal trainer and beauty consultant Jovi Nicole Engbino. The couple got engaged in early 2020 and tied the knot later that year in La Jolla, California, shortly after welcoming their first child together, a daughter named Hiro.

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