Te'o, 21, maintained he had been tricked into believing Lennay Kekua, the online and phone girlfriend he never met in person, died in September. He said he didn't doubt her existence until she called him in December saying she was alive.
In an interview which aired Thursday on "Katie," Couric asked him if he had "any involvement in creating the scam," to which Te'o replied, "No, I did not."
"I think what people don't realize is the same day everybody else found out about this situation, I found out," he said. "I didn't know it was just somebody's prank."
Te'o also admitted he lied to the media about how he met Kekua, adding, "For people feeling that they were misled, that I'm sorry for."
"I wasn't as forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie. I never was asked, 'Did I meet her in person?' Through the embarrassment and the fear of what people would think about me being committed to this person I didn't have a chance to meet, and she all of a sudden died, that scared me. And to avoid any further conversation, I wasn't as forthcoming as I should have been," he said.
Pressed to comment on how the story made him a sympathetic figure to fans and in the media, Te'o said: "The only thing I basked in is that now I had an impact on people; that people turned to me for inspiration. I think that was the only thing I focused on. My story, I felt, was -- a guy in times of hardship and times of trial, really held strong to his faith... and family. I thought that was my story."
Even if that hardship was exaggerated? Couric wanted to know.
"What I went through was real," Te'o said. "The feelings, the pain, the sorrow -- that was all real. That was something I can't fake."
|Additional U.S. News Stories|
PHOENIX, June 20 (UPI) --A man convicted of a string of killings in the Phoenix area was found dead Wednesday in his cell on death row.
LOS ANGELES, June 19 (UPI) --U.S. singer and actress Selena Gomez and British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran are now involved in a trans-Atlantic romance, Us Weekly reports.
IRVINE, Calif., June 20 (UPI) --Chicago has the highest number of owner-vacated foreclosed properties among major U.S. cities in June, online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac said.