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A man believed to be involved in perpetuating the Manti Te’o hoax auditioned for the upcoming season of NBC’s The Voice, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, whom Deadspin (the sports blog that broke the Te’o story) pegs as having posed as the Notre Dame linebacker’s faux girlfriend Lennay Kekua, performed Matisyahu‘s “One Day” for show judges (including new panelists Shakira and Usher) on the hit singing contest but failed to make it through to the next level because nobody turned their chair around, according to Us Weekly, which first reported Tuiasosopo’s audition.
In landing the opportunity to wow Adam Levine and company, Tuiasosopo sold producers a tragic backstory: that he and his cousins formed a Christian band, and while en route to take the stage at a youth conference in Nevada, their car was hit by a truck in a “massive” accident. As if by a miracle, all survived — even though doctors initially deemed one of Tuiasosopo’s bandmate-relatives to be possibly brain-dead.
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“He had this insane sob story before [he sang]. It would make for great TV,” a source tells the magazine, which also cites an insider as saying that Tuiasosopo “passed a background check and a psych evaluation” — protocol for reality series in screening contestants — but that “people now think the sob story is fake.”
Deadspin has reported that Tuiasosopo, 22, a former hotshot high school quarterback-turned-frontman of a Christian band at the California church where his father is pastor, is acquainted with Te’o and allegedly masterminded the Kekua hoax, first creating her in 2008.
Te’o, meanwhile, has alleged in a statement that he was scammed.
“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating,” he said Wednesday, drawing both support and a heavy dose of skepticism.
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