In Manti Te'o's first on-camera interview since it was revealed that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was a fabrication and did not die during Notre Dame's undefeated regular season as was widely reported, the Notre Dame linebacker continued to insist that he was the victim of a cruel hoax.
"That's the truth," Te'o told Katie Couric during his appearance on her syndicated talk show. "I was just scared. I didn't know what to do."
As he had previously admitted, Te'o told Couric that he had initially lied to his father about meeting Kekua in person. He also said that he had briefly misled reporters after learning just days before the Heisman Trophy ceremony that something was seriously amiss with his understanding of his relationship with Kekua and her supposed death.
"Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later," Te'o explained to Couric. "And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"
Speaking for many who have been following the bizarre hoax, Couric told the Notre Dame linebacker that "either you're the most naive person on the planet or this is the saddest story ever written."
As Te'o and his parents, who joined him for a portion of the interview explained it, the Heisman finalist was a trusting, compassionate "kid" who was caught up in an elaborate web of lies.
"People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life," an emotional Brian Te'o, Manti's father, told Couric. "And he's not a liar. He's a kid."
According to Te'o, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo confessed his responsibilty for the hoax via a message on Twitter and over the telephone. Tuiasosopo explained, per Te'o, that he had executed this elaborate hoax in order to "help."
"He just explained he just wanted to help people," Te'o said. "And that was his way of helping people."
Addressing speculation that Te'o could have been involved in concocting the hoax in order to hide his sexuality, Couric asked if he was gay.
"No, far from it ... far from it," Te'o replied.
Te'o provided Couric with recordings of voicemails supposedly left by Kekua and portions of these were played during the broadcast. Earlier on Thursday, the New York Daily News reported that Tuiasosopo was on the another end of those calls, impersonating a female voice.
Manti “thought it was a female he was talking with,” Tuiasosopo's lawyer, Milton Grimes, told to the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
Below is the audio of one of those voicemails, via Deadspin, supposedly left for Te'o the day before Kekua "died" in September 2012:
"It didn't sound like a man. It sounded like a woman," Te'o said after Couric played the voicemails. "If [Ronaiah] made that voice, it's incredible. It's an incredible talent."
CLICK HERE to listen to the rest of the voicemails.
After hearing -- and seeing -- Te'o address this bizarre story, do you find him more or less believable? Here are some of the notable reactions on Twitter to the interview.