Manti Te’o’s redemption tour is well under way with Katie Couric landing the first on-camera interview with the Notre Dame linebacker embroiled in a scandal about his dead girlfriend who turned out to be an Internet hoax.
The interview with Te’o and his parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, will air Thursday on Couric’s syndie talkshow, “Katie.” ABC News will heavily promote clips from the sit-down in the run up to Thursday’s broadcast.
The Te’o scandal, and the related questions about how much Notre Dame football officials knew about the incident, broke just as Oprah Winfrey was making headlines for her coup of getting embattled cycling star Lance Armstrong to come clean after years of denying doping allegations. Observers have said that the two-part Armstrong telecast marks a turning point for Winfrey’s struggling OWN cabler. Undoubtedly, Couric’s producers and distrib Disney-ABC Domestic TV are hoping the Te’o clan’s appearance will boost the first-year show’s profile.
The race to land the first TV interview with the college football star and Heisman Trophy runner-up began last week when Deadspin.com published a report questioning the existance of the woman Te’o claimed to have been his girlfriend. The story of his girlfriend and his grandmother dying on the same day last September generated significant media attention for Te’o just as he was vying for Heisman glory.
Manti Te’o did an off-camera interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Friday night as the media storm surrounding the hoax report intensified. Te’o has claimed he was a victim of an elaborate scam masterminded by a California man, and that he never met the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua.