Jovie Nicole Engbino is a fitness instructor who is the wife of football player Manti Te’o, who was famously catfished.
In 2022, Netflix streamed the show, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.” The caption reads, “From Notre Dame to the NFL, Manti Te’o’s future in football showed promise until a secret online relationship sent his life and career spiraling.”
The Netflix show tells the story of how Te’o was hoodwinked into believing he had a girlfriend named Lennay Kekua, who had died of leukemia. That was back in 2012. It later turned out that it was an elaborate catfishing scheme, and Kekua did not exist.
However, Te’o fairly quickly found true love at last with a real woman: Engbino.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Te’o & His Wife Have a Daughter & a Son on the Way
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According to USA Today, today Te’o is a free agent in professional football.
“Te’o is married with one daughter and has a son on the way,” reported CBS.
Te’o and Engbino were married in La Jolla, California, according to Hello.
Te’o wrote a shoutout to his wife:
My wife. My best friend. The Bonnie to my Clyde. The yin to my yang. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but dang I got this one right. Through all the injuries, jokes, memes, hashtags, doubts, mistakes, she held me down and stood up for me just like my family did and that’s how I knew. When the world turns their back on you, look around…those that are still there are the ones that will ALWAYS be there. I know who’s rocking with me and who ain’t and there’s one thing for sure, she’s a ryydahhh. Here’s to eternity queen. You got me…I got us! I love you @jovinicolefitness #givethanks #day4
2. Te’o’s Wife Is a Fitness Instructor
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According to The Sun, Te’o met his future wife in 2016, and they married in 2020. According to the Sun, “she formerly worked as a sales support specialist but is now a trainee nurse and fitness instructor.”
On Instagram, many of Engbino’s photos showcase her pursuit of fitness.
Her Instagram profile reads,
“🤍ℋ𝒾𝓇𝑜𝓂𝒾 + 𝒫𝓇𝒾𝓃𝒸𝑒’𝓈 𝓂𝒶𝓂𝒶
💉𝓕𝓊𝓉𝓊𝓇𝑒 𝓝𝓾𝓻𝓼𝓮 𝓘𝓷𝓳𝓮𝓬𝓽𝓸𝓻
3. Engbino Wrote That Te’o Was Her ‘Best Friend & the Love of My Life’
Engbino often expresses her love for Te’o on her Instagram page.
In 2020, she wrote on Instagram,
Yesterday I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life in an intimate beach ceremony❤️ Although this was not how we envisioned our ceremony, it was perfect. We will be having our reception and celebration when Temples and venues open back up so we can share this special occasion with our families and I couldn’t be more excited.
A person wrote in the comment thread, “I hope your story gives inspiration to anybody struggling that needs to overcome – I wish you both a happy marriage many children and lots of love 💗❤️💎⭐️😊”
Another person wrote, “I just watched your husband story. My heart goes out to him but I already knew God would lead him back where he belongs. May God bless your beautiful family. 🙏🏼”
4. Te’o Has Spoken Out About the Netflix Show
Te’o spoke to “CBS Mornings” after the Netflix show began streaming.
“In order for me to kind of heal from this, I needed to reveal it,” Te’o told the show.
“I challenged myself at this time that if anybody asked about it or had questions about it, that I would be open and I would have those hard conversations, and I started to feel the strength that I would get from talking about it.”
I didn’t know what to believe. You don’t expect for somebody to say ‘Hey, somebody’s dead,’ and three months later, ‘Somebody’s alive.’ What do you do with that information? Do you call somebody and say, ‘Hey, I just found out somebody’s alive.’
5. Deadspin Unraveled the Catfishing Hoax
In 2013, Deadspin revealed that the heartbreaking story of Kekua’s death was a “hoax.” The exhaustively detailed investigation report was written by Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey.
The story of Kekua and Te’o had even made the pages of Sports Illustrated. “In the span of six hours in September, as Sports Illustrated told it, Te’o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua,” Deadspin reported.
The story went that Kekua, 22, was injured in a car accident in California and then died of leukemia. According to Deadspin, the Sports Illustrated author even described how her “relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice.”
According to Deadspin, the football player spoke on television about letters Kekua sent him and the heartfelt story was featured in other respected publications.
ESPN wrote before the hoax unraveled:
Te’o’s family was originally set to meet Kekua for the first time this Saturday, and the emptiness probably will be felt in the same way it has been every day since her passing, when the couple’s ritual of falling asleep on the phone together came to a tragic end.
Kekua made Te’o promise he would not leave Notre Dame should anything happen to her, requesting only a few white roses. So he responded three days after her death by recording 12 tackles in a prime-time win at then-No. 10 Michigan State.
Only it wasn’t true.
According to Deadspin, Notre Dame released this statement:
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life. I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.
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