The next episode of ESPN’s Backstory with Don Van Natta Jr. will focus on the story of former college football player Manti Te’o and the catfishing scandal that surrounded his senior year at Notre Dame.

What’s Happening: 

  • ESPN’s documentary series Backstory with Don Van Natta Jr. takes a look at some of the most interesting and controversial stories in the sports world. The next entry explores the story of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.
  • The hour-long episode examines the story Te’o was able to tell his tale to the biggest media entities in sports, as well as the behind-the-scenes scheming that took place once it was clear that the truth would out.
  • As part of his pursuit to get to the bottom of what happened, Van Natta corresponds with Te’o himself over the phone and through text messaging – before pursuing a follow-up on-camera interview.
  • Backstory: The Tale of Te’o premieres Sunday, January 3, at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN. After its initial airing, the program will be available for on-demand viewing on the ESPN App and will be available to stream on ESPN+ in late January.


What They’re Saying:

  • Don Van Natta, Jr: “This strange, complicated tale ranks among one of the more challenging stories of my 30-plus year journalism career. Eight years later, there are plenty of lingering, intriguing questions about the saga. Among them: Was Te’o complicit with his catfisher? And when talking with reporters, did Te’o purposefully or inadvertently fuel the legend with the words he chose about his girlfriend, whom he described as ‘the love of my life?’ And what does it say about media-made myths and the stories we all find irresistible?”
  • Don Van Natta, Jr: “Doubts about many aspects of his story still linger to this day. And I believe that’s explained, in part, by the careful way Te’o told his story back in 2013 and has said nothing about it since. And, as I discovered in recent months, Te’o and his handlers are continuing to carefully manage the way he chooses to answer a reporter’s questions.”

About Te’o’s Story:

  • “Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o wasn’t just the team’s best player; he was also the figure at the center of a fairy tale-like narrative that had unfolded throughout the fall of 2012. As he had told major media outlets, his grandmother and girlfriend had died within hours of one another on the same day. The senior linebacker had dedicated his season in their honor, and as the Irish continued to chalk up wins, the story grew bigger and bigger. If only it had all been true. The tale of all that was revealed next – that the girlfriend didn’t exist, and was part of a “catfishing” hoax, uncovered a few days after the season by”

More Backstory:

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